The Wreck of the Medusa

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Book Details

Author  Jonathan Miles
Publisher  Atlantic Monthly Press
Publication Date   October 10, 2007
ISBN  9780871139597
Pages  336

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Description

The Wreck of the Medusa is a spellbinding account of the most famous shipwreck before the Titanic, a tragedy that riled a nation and inspired Théodore Géricault’s magnificent painting The Raft of the Medusa . In June 1816, the flagship of a French expedition to repossess a colony in Senegal from the British set sail. She never arrived at her destination; her incompetent captain Hugo de Chaumareys, ignoring telltale signs of shallow waters, plowed the ship into a famously treacherous sandbar. A privileged few claimed the lifeboats while 146 men and one woman were herded aboard a makeshift raft and set adrift. Without a compass or many provisions, hit by a vicious storm the first night, and exposed to sweltering heat during the following days, the group set upon each other: mayhem, mutiny, and murder ensued. When rescue arrived thirteen days later only fifteen were alive. Meanwhile, those in the boats who made it to shore undertook a dangerous two-hundred-mile slog through the desert. Among the handful of survivors from the raft were two men whose written account of the fiasco became a bestseller that rocked France’s political foundations and provided graphic fodder for Géricault’s world-famous painting.

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