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Publisher's Summary

On a snowy morning in January 1910, the Alaska Steamship Company's Farallon struck Black Reef in Cook Inlet. The vessel carried no wireless radio to broadcast an SOS. Thirty-eight men scrambled into lifeboats, to be cast up on the rugged shore where they huddled under make-shift tents constructed from the Farallon's sails. Exposed to a bitter northern winter with meager equipment and clothing, a disturbing awareness sank in-rescuers may arrive too late.

In a daring attempt to find help, six men launched a lifeboat on the open sea. During two months of relentless travail, the brave mariners were all but given up for lost.

One of the stranded men created a startling record of the shipwrecked party. John E. Thwaites, an amateur photographer and the ship's mail clerk, shot dozens of haunting, stark images of the ice-shrouded derelict, the castaways' barren camp, and frostbitten men with burlap-wrapped feet. Lloyd brings to life a riveting tale of hardy seafaring men and tough sourdoughs who survived cold and despair against difficult odds in Alaska's stormswept wilderness.

©2000 Board of Regents of Washington State University (P)2014 Redwood Audiobooks

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 11-23-14

Gripping Tale of Survival

When I was a kid I loved stories about survival and shipwrecks, I still do. This book is the story of the shipwreck of the S.S. Farallon, a wooden schooner steamship that was used to transport lumber. On a snowy morning January 5, 1910 the S. S. Farallon struck Black Reef in Cook Inlet Alaska. With no radio to call for help, the crew scrambled into lifeboats and headed for the shore.

The book tells of how the crew survived being castaways in the barren wilderness in midwinter with temperature plunging to -40 degree Fahrenheit. The author provides background of the various mariners and ships that played a part in the events that unfolded while pacing the narrative in a compelling manner. The author’s research was extensive and the book is well document. One of the crew members was an amateur photographer; he grabbed his Kodak camera when he went into the lifeboat. He took one hundred photographs of their ordeal. The photograph collection is at the University of Washington.

It is hard to believe that these men actually managed to survive their ordeal. The book tells of the courage and stamina that it takes to come through alive. The author states that pieces of the ship are still on the rocks of the uninhabited coastline, undisturbed a century later. The book was published in 2000 by the Washington State University press and contains some of the pictures of the ordeal. The audio book was released on November 11, 2014. Frank Wright narrated the book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • KDV
  • Atlanta GA USA
  • 11-20-14

This is a riveting story told very well

What made the experience of listening to Farallon the most enjoyable?

This book breaks into many parallel stories, each serious and engaging, each well done. The hardships these folks endured were understated but easy to feel, not just words but stepping into their dire situations at a personal level. This book has some of the feel of the great Jack London stories of the Yukon, and it carried me along.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Seaman Swenson was the most interesting character, with his courage and quiet leadership. In the hearing, when he could have taken a negative position, he stayed strong and supported his captain and crew.

What does Frank Wright bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narration by Frank Wright made this a great experience. Although the story is compelling, there in an unusual amount of detail which can sometimes bog things down, but the narration carried the story, and I listened to the whole book in less than one day. This is the best audio book narration I have heard, and I listen to a LOT of audio books. I plan to look for more books narrated by Frank Wright.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When the story seemed to be wrapping up, a character I thought had safely left the story came back into focus, and he suffered more than nearly anyone. His experience with the shotgun, seemingly a life saver, then turned tragic, took me right back into the plot.

Any additional comments?

This is not the kind of book I often read, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. It really did remind me of some of the great survival books, like London, Nordhoff & Hall, and Gann.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Dusty roads
  • SAULT SAINTE MARIE, MICHIGAN, United States
  • 02-03-16

Boring

Maybe I've been spoiled by great books about survival, but I found this quite boring, didn't bother to finish it. It takes like half the book to get stranded, with a mind-numbing history of the captain and the ship. Really seems like it was a struggle to get a whole novel out of it.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A shipwreck story with good history

Would you listen to Farallon again? Why?

No. I would like to read the print addition which would include photographs and maps.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Farallon?

The splitting off of the men who attempted to sail for help.

What does Frank Wright bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Great narration. I thought it was superb.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No.

Any additional comments?

Interesting story but a bit too detailed. No compelling leader. I needed maps and photographs. I most enjoyed learning the history of Alaska steamships in the late 1800s and early 1900s

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Hard to follow

The narrator was excellent. However the book was very hard to follow w/o a map handy which is hard in a car.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful