The Wreck of the Medusa The Most Famous Sea Disaster of

The Wreck of the Medusa The Most Famous Sea Disaster of the Nineteenth Century 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

10 thoughts on “The Wreck of the Medusa The Most Famous Sea Disaster of the Nineteenth Century

  1. Brady Brady says:

    The shipwreck story is fascinating and the refresher in French history post revolution is good but the writing of the book feels overblown and it spends too much time in my mind on the painting and its artist The story of the wreck itself is brutal and engaging I didn't need the florid language the screaming sun a world beyond the bloodstained borders of their raft etc but then it felt pretty much dropped for the bulk of the book as we followed one survivor's political agitations and the process of the artist painting the canvas to commemorate the event

  2. Jennifer Jennifer says:

    While I wasn't always crazy about this author's turn of phrase it often felt heavy handed to me I must give him credit for keeping his narrative threads pithy I appreciated that he really kept things moving along which must have been a challenge considering how many interesting aspects there are to this story Previously my only exposure to this story was from a few slides in a college Art History class and my knowledge of early 18th c European history is weak The Medusa was THE tabloid scandal of its era with supercharged social political and historic ramifications A flashpoint that exposed the incompetence of the old order in a time when France had not yet shrugged off royal rule it also made the career of a tragic young artist Gericault and became a soapbox for Liberal and Abolitionist leaders to stand on and point out horrific policies and abuses of power A solid and extremely interesting look at a historic event with plenty of the arts and culture of the time to add fine contextNow I need to find a good book on Napoleon because I find myself really mystified by that character

  3. Alaina Alaina says:

    A haunting horrific tale of corruption and selfish ambition that lead to one of the most notorious sea disasters of the 19th century best described by author himself as an avoidable catastrophein which the villains are obvious heroes are few and the chroniclers are not altogether to be trustedIt is also a fascinating blend of the politics history and drama indirectly responsible for the shipwreck that gave birth to one of the most famous paintings in history The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault as well as a dawning new era of abolitionism in Europe The only lighthearted note to the story is found in a few brief pages about the British obsession with a tale that so obviously portrayed their recent maritime enemies in a poor light The part played by Major Peddie whose kindness to Corréard when he had been hospitalized in Senegal stood in such heartwarming contrast to the callous indifference of the French leaders endeared the saga to the British The English relished a scandal that revealed weaknesses in French administration and the lack of discipline and moral fiber in their navy French ineptitude reflected advantageously on English competenceHowever these lighthearted moments are scant in a grander tale of death murder and a country reeling from bloody revolution and political extremism

  4. Krystl Louwagie Krystl Louwagie says:

    2009 reviewWell it took me a while to read this book it was academic than most fun reads Non fiction about a ship voyage that was led by a captain the French Monarchy had appointed because of his merit or as a political favor and not because he was actually ualified at all He ran the ship into shallow water the rich and choice few took the few amount of life boats available didn't fill them to capacity and left 200 people on a raft that couldn't stay afloat with hardly any food water etc Long story short there was mutiny and cannibalism on the raft and only 13 survived most of which died in the hospital or shortly after 2 of the survivors wrote books with the intention of pointing out how bad the current government was etc the artist Gericault met with the authors and survivors and painting a famous painting of the raft which is why I learned about the Medusa in the first placeThis book was different than I expected it to be I really liked the attention given to the painter Gericault except I had done so much research on him there were definitely interesting things I would've included in the book had I written it p I did learn things too though And I enjoyed the chapters about the wreck of the ship and the direct aftermathstruggles What I found boring was the too long overview of the French Revolution which I already knew plenty about and how long the book went on for waaaaaay after much to do about the shipwreck was being discussed it went on to talk all about political things like the battle for the abolition of slavery etc which wasn't all that pertinent to the Medusa shipwreck a couple paragraphs would've explained how it fit in instead of a very very long chapterSince the barbarity of what happened on the ship and what desperate humans will do is what really interests me about this story I wanted elaboration on that story there was some but really only one chapter I wanted that to be almost the whole book I didn't find out much I didn't already know except for the fate of the people on one of the lifeboats which was pretty interesting too they had their own tough times washing up on enemy desert landAnyways I don't think this book would be very interested to someone who wasn't originally interested in the shipwreck the French revolution and political state and Gericault the artistbut I certainly don't regret reading it p For what I wanted out of it it was slightly disappointing but not hugely

  5. Michael Michael says:

    This is one messed up story The fate of these people will disgust you The whole captain goes down with the ship routine is completely disregarded and a lot of innocent people perish because of a fool having control of their fate This a book about stupidity and cowardly actions A complete disregard for others welfare It is an amazing story and well written If you enjoy maritime history this is a must have The story of the Medusa and her fate is definitely a uniue and strange tale As well as tragic and maddening

  6. Jason Wright Jason Wright says:

    I would agree with some of the other reviews The story of the raft is engaging entertaining and brings up deep issues of man’s inhumanity to man The story of the artist is interesting in that like many other talented artists he has deep psychological dysfunction Unfortunately too much time is spent on the artist life and the lives of individuals in post Bonaparte France

  7. Courtney Courtney says:

    It was an interested read and well written However I only managed to get 23rds of the way through it because after the wreck business is over the book turns to the effects of the wreck on the politics of France etc just not interesting to me

  8. Jessie Jessie says:

    The Wreck of The MedusaIf only the author had read a book I recently devoured about the General Slocum Steamboat Disaster by Edward T O’Donnell because I feel that this book would have benefitted from a similar styleThe only thing I enjoyed about this book was learning about what had happened on the raft and in the desert although those chapters were a little confusing to read at times Everything else just seems like a cacophony of random information poorly put into chapters It would highly of aided from a different editorUsually a painting of a tragic event follows the tragic event It outlines it makes it into something accessible to the people who were not there But the author of this book seems to think that the painting or rather the painter is important than the event That the politics are important than the event The victims are named once maybe twice and then forgotten for talks of Napoleon and the monarchyIt is a bit disgraceful to the memory of the people who had died and their families25 will seek a better book on this event to review

  9. Will Will says:

    Miles weaves together the stories of the shipwreck of the Medusa and the painting of The Raft OF The Medusa the masterpiece it inspired He relates the incompetence and criminal decisions that led to the wreck and to the substantial loss of life that followed and the tribulations faced by the survivors in reaching their destination of Senegal by land He traces the life of Alexandre Correard a survivor of the shipwreck and raft who worked tirelessly after returning to France in opposition to the monarchy and the slave trade And Miles tells the fascinating story of the painter of The Raft Of The Medusa and shows how Gericault researched in order to produce a truly magnificent painting Throughout Miles' work reads like a novel

  10. Sara Sassinfras Sara Sassinfras says:

    They style of writing was not for someone expecting a detailed story of the events of the Medusa The book is written as what feels as numerous ministories in attempts to make a deep web of interconnection to show the larger picture and story at hand Cons too much time and detailed spent on the French revolution the artists life and numerous series of events revolving around his painting the political aftermath of the survivors from the wreck Pros learning about above facts and events were intresting The account of the raft and shipwreck was what I wanted and detail of it Mixed feelings in this one however the writting style was not for me

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