RAFT OF DESPAIR by Ensio Tiira


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For those who remember Walter Gibson's The Boat (Houghton, Mifflin), this is an ordeal of equal endurance- Gibson was adrift for four weeks, Ensio Tiira for 32 days. There is somewhat less of the brute deterioration of the first book- but this still stands as a fairly stark account. Tiira, with one other man, Ericsson, jumped ship to escape from the Foreign Legion, and found that their raft was not much more than a few strips of canvas and that they were further from Sumatra than they had thought. Within a few days their food- and wine- were gone; sharks attacked, and were beaten off with paddles; they rigged a sail with Ericsson's shirt- but had no bearings to follow; their tempers frayed, their bodies ; raw fish and occasional rain kept Tiira alive- but Ericsson died and his attracted more and more sharks until Tiira had to put it overboard. And finally, after 32 days, he was picked up by a British freighter and taken to the Singapore General Hospital where he weighed in at 56 pounds... For spectator stoics, a grim narrative of survival.

Publisher: Dutton