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Publisher's Summary

From Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson to Alive! and Adrift, tales of survival have captivated readers. Here are the most remarkable stories imaginable of maroons, castaways, and other survivors from the 1500s to the present: their moral dilemmas, their personalities, and their influence on society, literature, and art. Included in this volume are accounts of shipwrecks, descriptions of being marooned in such isolated corners of the globe as Ascension Island and Patagonia, and an account by Antoine de Saint-Exupery on his experience in the Libyan desert.

Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls is an unforgettable exploration of a subject of perennial fascination.

©1988 Edward E. Leslie (P)1998 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"The ultimate book of ordeals....Fascinating, entertaining, and horrifying. I heartily recommend it." (Paul Theroux)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    33
  • 4 Stars
    33
  • 3 Stars
    22
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    4

Performance

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    16
  • 4 Stars
    13
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    12
  • 2 Stars
    5
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    4

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Sort by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Reads like a text book

I believe this was written in 1988 but the tone and style seems more like an 1800's text book. It contains quite a bit of information, but I didn't find it at all "Fascinating, entertaining, and horrifying" as the review by Paul Theroux states. Nor can "I heartily recommend it". If you're interested in a study of the psychology and history of marooned people, go for it, if you're looking for facinatition and entertainment, pass on this one.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Slow to start

I'm a big fan of survivor stories such as those on the Discovery channel, so I thought this book would be enthralling. However, I found it hard to get into and hard to follow (possibly because my mind kept wandering), at least for the first third of the book. If you're looking for entertaining survivor stories and you want to give this one a try, I'd skip part 1 and start with part 2. Even then, it's still a little dry.

Other survivor stories I'd recommend include Life of Pi (fiction) and Over the Edge (non-fiction).

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Choppy

The first 2/3 of the book is non-linear, in other words stories are told, but not in totality. The author spends time speaking about themes and using examples of those themes by way of several stories. I found this confusing and formed the opinion that this is more of a scholarly work than a work of nonfiction

Only the latter part of the book involved stories that were told from beginning to end.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

awesome from start to finish

Captivating from start to finish!! From the moments of meek humanity to the moments of sheer terror any human being will find it easy to get hooked by this book

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A favourite entry in my audio library

Any additional comments?

Enjoyable book, enjoyable narration. Like many folks who enjoy historical survival stories, I have favourite sub-genres (e.g., I favour old marooning and shipwreck stories rather than more modern plane-goes-down-in-the-desert/mountains). This book spans a range of survival stories, so depending on the mood I'm in when I replay this book, I skip around to different chapters. That doesn't make me want to reduce my rating for this book, though, because I haven't lost interest in it - years after buying it, I still occasionally listen to parts of it. It's good therapy for when I get tired of crowds and dealing with people - I listen to the book and reflect on what it would be like to be isolated and forced to survive on my wits alone.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Not boring

Any additional comments?

This book is far more than a collection of tales of the macabre for the armchair adventurer; it is filled with fascinating information of historic interest that allows the reader to regard the subject matter in a more enlightened manner. The only reason I can image for the low accounting of stars from some of the reviewers is that they were expecting perhaps a more 'Disney' like rendering of these tales – full of excitement but with very little depth.
I bought this book in 1992 and have always held it in high esteem ever since. Then I found it as an audio – and am very happy to have purchased and listened to it. The only fault I can find, is in the reading, which, to my ear sometimes sounds as if the reader is bored. This is not so bad that it distracts any from the book, but in me anyway, leaves a touch of regret, for this book is very far from dull.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

A Reference Book

What disappointed you about Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls?

I thought that this book would be more short stories but it really is more of a reference book. The information is interesting but definitely not put in story form.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I didn't enjoy this book but if you are someone who enjoys just the facts this book would be for you. The information is robust and well researched.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful