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Sailing Alone: A History


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About the Author

Richard J. King is a visiting associate professor in Maritime History and Literature with the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He has been sailing on ships throughout the Atlantic and Pacific for twenty-five years and in 2007 sailed across the Atlantic alone in a 28-foot sailboat. He is the author of Ahab's Rolling Sea- A Natural History of Moby-Dick, The Devil's Cormorant- A Natural History, Lobster, Meeting Tom Brady and co-editor of the anthology Audubon at Sea- The Coastal and Trans-Atlantic Writings of John James Audubon.


An engaging, beautifully written history of single-handed sailing ... Packed with ripping yarns and driven characters.
*The Economist*

Those who have chosen to face the dangers of the ocean alone are a colourful and inventive bunch ... I was delighted to read of [King's] amazement.
*The Times*

The book is as much a feat as the crossing ... something to be marvelled at ... I’ve already started plotting my own ocean crossing.

First-hand accounts evoke the elation, frustrations and dangers of life in a small boat crossing the ocean ... King assembles a truly eccentric, even flamboyant cast of solo sailors.
*Financial Times*

Richard King is a superb and gifted writer, and Sailing Alone is an exceptional book. Into his account of his own singlehanded ocean crossing, he has woven a rare and compelling history of the real explorers, the extraordinary 'ordinary' people-men, women, and even children-who took off alone, in tiny, often crude boats, and found what we are all searching for. Here is the real story of what it's like to be alone at sea. A real achievement that will provide inexhaustible re-reading, Sailing Alone belongs on the very small shelf of the true classics of the sea.
*Peter Nichols, author of Sea Change and A Voyage for Madmen*

Sailing Alone is a beacon, a lighthouse of luminance for the experienced and inexperienced alike. Richard King's insightful reflections on the stories of lone voyagers make this required reading for all who dream fervently of such voyages. A nuanced study in aspiration, endurance, terror, and triumph, it's a treasure.
*Jon Wilson, Founder, WoodenBoat*

Praise for Richard J. King's Ahab's Rolling Sea: A Natural History of Moby-Dick: 'Anyone who loves Moby-Dick should read this book'
*Nathaniel Philbrick, author of In the Heart of the Sea*

A superb work of popular scholarship that rivals the best books of maritime non-fiction currently in print ... a joy to read.
*Dan Brayton, author of Shakespeare’s Ocean*

A wide-ranging, highly personal, richly eclectic, and extremely well-researched book whose style and humour, combined with its rigor, suggest the potential for popularity beyond the fascinations of this self-confessed whalehead ... A contemporary, witty, almost postmodern field guide.
*Philip Hoare, author of The Whale*

A marvellous guide to the magic and mystery that was Melville's gift to us.
*Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and Becoming Wild*

Brilliantly written, I have been drawn back to Sailing Alone again and again; each new reading brings a different perspective, and has also introduced me to remarkable sailors I really should have known about.
*Practical Boat Owner*

King has an academic's research skills and a deep appreciation of the link between solo sailing and writing. He has also had the ocean-time to develop questions that could never have been formulated from a library ... An important, stimulating book.
*Yachting Monthly*

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