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Publisher's Summary

438 Days is the miraculous account of the man who survived alone and adrift at sea longer than anyone in recorded history - as told to journalist Jonathan Franklin in dozens of exclusive interviews.

On November 17, 2012, Salvador Alvarenga left the coast of Mexico for a two-day fishing trip. A vicious storm killed his engine, and the current dragged his boat out to sea. The storm picked up and blasted him west. When he washed ashore on January 29, 2014, he had arrived in the Marshall Islands, 9,000 miles away - equivalent to traveling from New York to Moscow round trip.

For 14 months, Alvarenga survived constant shark attacks. He learned to catch fish with his bare hands. He built a fish net from a pair of empty plastic bottles. Taking apart the outboard motor, he fashioned a huge fishhook. Using fish vertebrae as needles, he stitched together his own clothes.

He considered suicide on multiple occasions - including offering himself up to a pack of sharks. But Alvarenga never failed to invent an alternative reality. He imagined a method of survival that kept his body and mind intact long enough for the Pacific Ocean to toss him up on a remote, palm-studded island, where he was saved by a local couple living alone in their own Pacific Island paradise.

Based on dozens of hours of interviews with Alvarenga and interviews with his colleagues, search and rescue officials, the medical team that saved his life, and the remote islanders who nursed him back to health, this is an epic tale of survival, an all-true version of the fictional Life of Pi. 438 Days is a study of the resilience, will, ingenuity, and determination required for one man to survive 14 months lost at sea.

©2015 Jonathan Franklin (P)2015 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"Narrator George Newbern does an excellent job delivering the story of Alvarenga's struggle... Newbern's consistent pace and varied tone keep the compelling story going, communicating the harrowing aspects of the journey as well as Alvarenga's inspirational will to survive his extended ordeal at sea." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I'M ALIVE..

A story that does not get enough attention is what '438 Days' is. A story of adversity and resilience that will make you feel good to be alive. There is a slight disconnect between the author and the subject and you feel plenty is lost in translation. But envisioning what happened in those 438 days is the real star of the story. "what would i do" and "would i be able to do that" will often pop into your head.George Newbern brilliant as always. Great read and well worth the credit.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 03-22-16

Absorbing Read

This is an Amazing story of survival. One November 17, 2012 Salvador Alvarenga age 36 and Ezequiel Cordoba age 22 left Costa Azul Mexico in a 25 foot small boat to fish. A storm blew in and pushed the small boat out into the Pacific Ocean. On January 29, 2014 Alvarenga drifted ashore on Ebon, the southern tip of the Marshall Island chain, almost 7000 miles from where he started. Salvador drifted on the ocean current for 438 days. Garbage drifted by some of which he ate and other he found use for such as bottles and barrels to catch water in.

Franklin interviewed Alvarenga for days to obtain his story. He did extensive research and interviews with oceanographers and other experts about the ocean and weather. Franklin states that Alvarenga said that battling loneliness, depression and suicidal thoughts were the most difficult to overcome in his battle for survival. I enjoyed the section where he tells of the week a whale shark drifted alongside his boat and attracted fish which he was able to catch. George Newbern did a good job narrating the story. This is a must read story for those who are interested in survival or sea stories.



11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Story to wake you up. nex

I have low vision and usually save audible books for bedtime, relying on news during the day. Most books let me nod off after 60 minutes, but this one kept me awake much longer. The tale is simply told, with authenticity, right from the start. Rather than the familiar approach, that of a deliberate ocean voyage gone desperately awry, this one is the story of a fisherman in a small boat, unequipped for extended time at sea, not even having lifeboat equipment to help him. Right away I am drawn in by the thought of how is he going to do it? The narrator tells me simply what he does, without dreams or superfluous detail, although there is enough detail to have me picturing the action, and thoughts as if I am there too. Every word is believable.

The tale is well narrated and the author's conclusions after he recovers is modest and hands us a simple way to keep urselves on track, to never say die. I finished this book in one night and a full day. I never have devoted a full day to a listening event!

30 of 32 people found this review helpful

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One Man's Survival Story....

This is one man's survival story which shows human being's abilities to survive sub-human conditions, and yet, when it's all said and done, they are never the same again. How can they be? they have suffered and had to do unspeakable things in order to survive. This man overcame adversity through sheer force of will, determination and the power of positive thinking. At the top of his list was his need to see his daughter again and do right by her. He's not your typical "dead beat" dad but close enough.

This man had to eat things without the luxury of cooking and drink his own urine. He used common sense and some "macgiver'ish" skills as well to stave-off starvation and dehydration.

I chose this novel on the recommendation of a couple of reviewers that I follow. I am glad that I made the purchase. It was a good break from my usual mysteries, thrillers and suspense type novels. The narrator was good. I was hooked into the story from the very beginning and wanted to know what happened. I enjoyed this listen.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Kathy
  • Davis, CA, United States
  • 09-08-16

Super Engrossing True Survival Story

It's a quick listen mainly because once it gets started, you won't be able to turn it off. Read Audible's description. I couldn't do a better job of describing it myself.

438 days at sea are really not imaginable to me. Author, Jonathan Franklin, spent hours interviewing the survivor, fisherman Salvador Alvarenga. You will shake your head in wonderment often. You will know that you most likely couldn't have survived in his place. You will have your favorite parts to savor, to go over in your mind long after finishing the book. If you are like me, you may even consider it worthy of a second listen.

Well written with a very good narration by George Newbern, this true survival tale is a winner for me. Highly recommended!

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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Excellent use of my credit!

What did you love best about 438 Days?

The story is amazing by itself. The man at the center of this story is remarkable. The story is told in amazingly simple way that still draws you in.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The story itself. It is amazing how someone can survive even 1 month in these conditions, let alone 14 months. But still the story is told in a very believable manner.

Have you listened to any of George Newbern’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

The performance of the reader is excellent!

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

How this life-threatening situation changes this man's values, believes and priorities for the better.

Any additional comments?

I own over 700 audible titles. I love survival stories and I have listened to many. I very seldom write reviews. This book is among the top survival stories I have ever listened to and is very possibly the best among them. This was a credit very well spent!!!

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jennifer
  • minneapolis, MN, United States
  • 07-23-16

Wow what a story!

When I was looking around for books to read I saw a review of "438 Days" that described this book as 'genuine'. That word is spot on. Jonathan Franklin made this story of survival seem totally genuine (and I hope that's because it was), it didn't feel exaggerated or glamorized it just felt factual and fascinating. This book was a page turner! What the main character survived was nothing short of astonishing. Some of those moments out at sea are pieces of writing that really stick with you, that is a testament to both the writing of Franklin and the true events that transpired. I had never heard of Jose Salvador Alvarenga prior to this book, I'm so happy Jonathan Franklin put this story out there for those of us who missed it the first time around. Great Read! I recommend it.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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The power of positive thinking

A very inspiring experience. It's amazing how we take daily comfort and dialog for granted until it's taken away. Hell is really here on earth. If not for his will to survive and a positive attitude he would not have made it. A very good non fiction audio book.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Captivating

Worth every penny. This is a compelling and riveting true story of a lone man's survival at sea. I couldn't put this audible down. I was with Salvador at every wave.

I thank him for sharing his scary, but up lifting story and I wish him well.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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love details

the details of the sea life is amazing. nature at its finest. Will read again

3 of 3 people found this review helpful