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Treacherous coasts, deathly deserts, warlike tribes. It must have been like landing on the moon. It is the fate of the survivor to be doubted, perhaps because nobility and self-sacrifice seem inherently less natural in extremity than deceit and selfishness. The research is very good, leading up to the present day. The Indian Ocean off South Africa has taken many a ship to its grave, full of rogue waves and sudden squalls.

The Grosvenor is one of just a handful that made it to land, but the horrors were just as bad. Jan 22, Donna rated it liked it Shelves: The story of the Grosvenor , an English ship that sank off the west coast of Africa in , is fascinating. Most of the officers, passengers, and crew made it to shore, where they decided to walk down the coastline towards a Dutch settlement. It didn't take long for many of the younger, stronger survivors to leave those less able to fend for themselves behind, including several women and children.

As the castaways headed south, they broke into ever smaller groups as they faced natural barriers, The story of the Grosvenor , an English ship that sank off the west coast of Africa in , is fascinating. As the castaways headed south, they broke into ever smaller groups as they faced natural barriers, hunger, sickness, and native tribes. Less than 20 of the people aboard the ship were ultimately rescued. This is a detailed, well-researched book full of evocative descriptions. The writing style can feel dense and overdone though, which makes it less accessible than it could be. It's also full of a lot of extra information.

While I appreciated the idea of starting before the Grosvenor left India, the flood of names and political intrigues didn't fit with the narrative that followed. This sense of disjointedness comes up again in the final sections, when the book circles repetitively through the rescue efforts and their aftermath.

Part of the ending is devoted to what might have happened to the women and girls left on the beach and how their loss was viewed by people at the time.


  • Caliban's Shore: The Wreck of the Grosvenor and the Strange Fate of Her Survivors by Stephen Taylor.
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The author juxtaposes romanticized tales of male castaways with a society that would prefer a dead Englishwoman to a survivor living among Africans, but he never quite follows that thread all the way. That might be for the best, because the ending already felt too drawn out, considering that it traces possible descendants of the castaways, goes over both treasure-hunting frauds and the ship's recovery, and then shares some of the author's personal experiences in the area. Oct 22, Gerald Sinstadt rated it it was amazing Shelves: This review was written after reading the book in its paperback edition - titled The Caliban Shore When the Indiaman, the Grosvenor, ran on to rocks and sank on the east coast of Africa in August there were more than a hundred survivors.

They were officers and men of the ship's crew as well as a range of passengers, men, women and children. At the time of the wreck, the captain had believed his position to be miles out to sea. His next mistake was to try to lead his motley band south t This review was written after reading the book in its paperback edition - titled The Caliban Shore When the Indiaman, the Grosvenor, ran on to rocks and sank on the east coast of Africa in August there were more than a hundred survivors.

His next mistake was to try to lead his motley band south towards the nearest Dutch settlement miles away; much nearer refuge was available had he chosen to go north. A series of individual dramas - many of them tragic - ensued. Stephen Taylor has done a remarkable job in piecing together the various elements and relating them with the control of a natural story-teller. His approach is scrupulously fair.

Where facts are sparse or non-existent, he resists fantasising, making speculation perfectly clear for what it is. He resists romanticising, pointing out that of the handful who returned to England none were heroes. There are many surprises, not least those concerning the women who may or may not have been "assimilated" into native tribes, and a conclusion which rounds out the tale satisfactorily without denying the loose ends which will always remain. Mar 02, Matt rated it liked it.

Not the greatest shipwreck book I've read lately. The prose is a bit dry and I'd guess the author is S. African as there were a few Afrikaans terms he used that I had to look up. Still, it's amazing to think about the world back when it was so much larger.

There really is no equivalent today unless you look forward to space exploration. Aug 14, Steven Clark rated it really liked it. I was immediately impressed by Taylor's recounting of the Grosvenor. He is an excellent writer with a concise style that was never too erudite or long-winded. He sets the story up beautifully depicting 18th century India and the system there, as well as listing the passengers. I'm familiar with a lot of British India, and at this time it was a private enterprise dream under 'John Company The perils and boredom of ocean travel are recounted, and the shipwreck is sad and I was immediately impressed by Taylor's recounting of the Grosvenor.

The perils and boredom of ocean travel are recounted, and the shipwreck is sad and almost depressing to tell, since Coxon, the captain, is shown to be a less than stellar captain. The world the castaways wash up on is Pondo land, and are immediately besieged by the natives Discipline breaks down, and the sailors take off on their own to Capetown, a journey that kills most of them.

Taylor gives a very good account of their trek, as well as the natural barriers of South Africa at that time and in an epilogue, he shows how much of the rugged terrain is still formidable. The real tragedy is how the men abandoned the women and children, and Taylor captures very well the social mores of that era, before Victorian sensibility took over. He recalls stories that some of the surviving women were incorporated into the local tribes. Here, he has to deal with legend more than facts, but Taylor does a good job of trying to present an accurate account of what may have occurred.

Good descriptions of many of the individuals in the story are well-drawn. It is a very thorough and approachable book, and I really couldn't put it down. Stephen Taylor's excellent grasp of the English language was a little difficult to wade through. The first part of the book chronicles the Grosvenor's journey from India and subsequent wreck off the southeastern shore of Africa in the 's. The sheer number of passengers made it hard to follow as characters are concerned. The second part attempts to piece together what became of the survivors and the third part relies on the first two parts to retell the story through court documents after an Stephen Taylor's excellent grasp of the English language was a little difficult to wade through.

The second part attempts to piece together what became of the survivors and the third part relies on the first two parts to retell the story through court documents after an investigation was conducted. So by that time you've read it all before. I quickly got bored and didn't finish the last 30 pages. May 26, Mike rated it really liked it Shelves: The tale of an East India Company shipwreck on the south east coast of what is now South Africa, Caliban's Shore is a beautifully written history that reads at times like a thriller.

The research, though limited by the scant availability of sources, is exhaustive, and Taylor's story telling whips along at a pace one would not expect from such a subject. It seemed at some points that certain characters had been forgotten, but back they came to surprise me and complete a very good account of a fas The tale of an East India Company shipwreck on the south east coast of what is now South Africa, Caliban's Shore is a beautifully written history that reads at times like a thriller.

It seemed at some points that certain characters had been forgotten, but back they came to surprise me and complete a very good account of a fascinating tragedy. Feb 04, Fredrick Danysh rated it liked it Shelves: In the East Indiaman of tons was sailing the India Ocean off the southern coast of Africa when she encountered a storm and sank. This is the story leading up to the tragedy and of the struggle of the survivors to reach civilization.

The Caliban Shore: The Fate of the Grosvenor Castaways - Stephen Taylor - Google Книги

It gives an insight to conditions in Africa during the Eighteenth Century as well what occurs in a struggle to survive a disaster in a hostile environment. It was easy to read and I found it interesting. Jul 07, Joanne Annabannabobanna rated it really liked it Recommends it for: True Adventure, historical-non fiction. Entirely riveting - could not put it down.

Huge fan of this sort of lit. Although I read it a couple of years ago I can easily bring to mind vivid details of this incredible true story. Rates up there with "In the Heart of the Sea" by Nathaniel Philbrick for its descriptive, nail-biting account.

The Wreck of the Grosvenor and the Strange Fate of Her Survivors

The story starts in India as passengers and crew make preparations to leave the country and return to England — some having made their fortunes, some under a cloud, and others in an unseemly hurry. We follow the trail of events that lead to the Grosvenor sticking the rocks at on the shores of the Wild Coast, and the miraculous escape of passengers and crew out of , including women one heavily pregnant and children, the youngest only a toddler. After a few days taking stock, most of the men abandon the women and all but one of the children to their fate, and head for what they wrongly believe to be the nearest European settlement, nearly miles south.

Constantly splitting, re-grouping, and splitting again, they struggle against exposure, malnutrition, and disease, not to mention the intrusively curious and sometimes aggressive locals. Three months later, the first survivors reach safety, but even after two rescue missions, only eighteen survivors made it home. Written with wonderful attention to detail, and obviously supported by thorough research, in The Caliban Shore , Stephen Taylor has produced a gripping story, and one I found hard to put down. I loved this book!

Taylor writes fluidly and his detail is what grabbed me from the start. Obviously he researched his subject well, not only the lives of those who were shipwrecked which he follows from start to finish, but also, more generally, the details of sailing at the time: I gained far m I loved this book!

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I gained far more than the story of the Grosvenor castaways. Instead the book extended my knowledge of what was required to sail in those days. How hard it was to get crew, how many died horrifying , how many different nationalities among the crew members and so on. Then the story of the survival trek. Mar 25, Phil rated it liked it Shelves: As tragic a ship wreck is hat's off to Stephen Taylor in making Grosvenor and it's crew and passengers come to life.

This is not a fluid read, somewhat confusing at times compared to other readings on shipwrecks.


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  4. India to Africa to Great Britan was the background just at times overwhelmed with too many characters in a story line that lacked transgression and fluidly to keep a readers interest at heart. Sep 09, Bish Denham rated it really liked it Shelves: The author obviously did a great deal of research to relate this sad tale of a shipwreck gone terrible wrong. This is not a heroic story, like that of Shackleton and the crew of The Endurance.

    My only problem with it is that I had a hard time keeping the names straight, who was who, particularly when he got into the names of African people and tribes but that's because I'm so unfamiliar with the languages. Overall a satisfying read. Had the potential to be interesting, but never quite delivers. Whilst I appreciate the researches were not able to establish all the details of the events, the writing was a bit dry.

    I must admit that I skip read the second half. Oct 03, Peter Staadecker rated it liked it. Very thoroughly researched, but the huge cast of characters and the very long timelines - including the background prior to the voyage, during the voyage, during the wreck, the descendants, the subsequent treasure hunt scams etc - lost my interest at times.

    A thoroughly researched and very well-written account of what happened to a group of castaways after their ship was wrecked off the coast of South Africa in Nov 11, Nicole rated it really liked it. I really enjoyed this book, a real non-fiction page-turner. It's the true and brutally interesting story of an English shipwreck on African shores in the late 18th-century.

    Almost everyone survives the impact, but things go south quickly after that for a variety of reasons, some of which class divisions, utter ignorance of Africa are particularly Colonial and some of which poor morale in the ranks, unqualified idiots in leadership positions are timeless. I confess to having an affinity for a I really enjoyed this book, a real non-fiction page-turner. Kiongwe was your man, at the going rate. Shipwreck narratives are a different matter. They are among the most revealing of all records, especially for the dangerous coast of southeast Africa where the warm current known as the agulhas meets cold air from Antarctica.

    Each shows the whites at the mercy of circumstance. Adamastor lists the penalties that will be exacted from the Portuguese for desecrating "Nature's secrets and the mysteries of the deep". But it probably explains some of the attention given to the wreck of the Grosvenor in , including Taylor's own interest.

    I see no land

    Once again, ladies of fashion were exposed to "half-naked tribesmen", the new story reconfirming the old. The Grosvenor was an East Indiaman of tons, pierced for 26 cannon, and able to carry ,lbs of tea. To this must be added diamonds and gold coins carried by the passengers. Other passengers included Charles Newman, a Calcutta lawyer sailing to London with evidence of corruption in the East India Company; Lydia Logie, who had come out on the Grosvenor to hunt for a husband and had settled for the chief mate; and a handful of wealthy merchants, retired officers, and two French prisoners of war - 35 in all, including six children, plus crew.

    After a delay at Trincoma lee, by early August they were approaching the coast of Africa. On the night of the 3rd, fires were seen, then a huge landmass to starboard. The second mate altered course, but was overruled by Coxon, who was convinced he was miles out at sea. After hours of uncertainty, 34 passengers, including 11 servants, and 91 crew reached shore. The castaways had various options. They could stay put until a rescue party managed to reach them. They could split into small parties, each proceeding at its own pace and living off what food they could barter. They could head north to Delagoa Bay, as the Africans advised them to do.

    At Coxon's insistence, they headed south en masse - the worst possible choice. The coastline, with forests and estuaries and the desert of Algoa Bay, was all but impassable. Their number made them appear dangerous, though they had salvaged no gunpowder from the wreck and had no means of defence. They had been shipwrecked in the famine season before the rains, when only small amounts of food were available. Taylor remarks at one point that the Grosvenor story is "singularly devoid of heroes" and more akin to "an especially black farce".

    In the event, the party fell apart, the crew abandoning the passengers, then, in a disgraceful scramble, the captain and his officers deserting the ladies. Fifteen of the crew, including eight lascars, completed the journey south.