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 The bardic Welsh author and global navigator, who among his many mighty deeds has soloed across the Atlantic nine times (he's now in his mid-60s), finally abandons a task begun in Outward Leg (1986) and carried on in The Improbable Voyage (1987) and Somewheres East of Suez (1988)--and tackles an even greater challenge. In 1982, Jones lost his left leg to virulent gout. Finding himself among the disabled, he decided to do something so daring that all the world's disabled could take heart from it: He'd circle the globe in a trimaran. Three volumes of cresting over disasters have brought him thus far to Thailand and to the idea that his first idea was unsound. Few disabled folk can afford a boat like his; he needs to do something never done before by any sailor--an audacious, high-risk spiritual journey. In a small, cheap boat, he will cross the waterways of the Kra peninsula, which divides the Andaman Sea from the Gulf of Thailand. With money from a magazine article, he buys an old wooden 38-foot-long Thai boat. He already has a young German mate, Thomas (who later dies of a heart attack), and rounds up a crew of disabled, three-limbed young Thais. Getting through to this crew is like grappling linguistically with Martians, though a great rapport at last awakens. They set sail from Phuket on heavy seas in the monsoon season, since only then will the dry riverbeds of the Kra have water. If they capsize, most of the three-limbed on board will drown, including Jones, who has never learned to swim anyway. Before they arrive at Bangkok amid cheering throngs along the river's edge (part of the journey was captured on TV), the crew makes 38 portages over rocky rapids, are hauled along by an elephant, arrested as Cambodian refugees, attacked by bandits, and so on, all the while with Jones's thigh rubbed to raw meat and his foot horribly infected. A mad crawl--but marvelous. (Nine maps.)

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1991
ISBN: 0-688-08022-7
Page count: 296pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1991