• The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst

  • Now filmed as The Mercy
  • By: Nicholas Tomalin, Ron Hall
  • Narrated by: Philip Bird
  • Length: 10 hrs and 12 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (47 ratings)

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The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst  By  cover art

The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst

By: Nicholas Tomalin,Ron Hall
Narrated by: Philip Bird
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Publisher's Summary

Now a major motion picture starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz, directed by James Marsh (The Theory of Everything).

In 1968 Donald Crowhurst was trying to market a nautical navigation device he had developed and saw the Sunday Times Golden Globe 'round the world sailing race as the perfect opportunity to showcase his product.

Few people knew that he wasn't an experienced deep-water sailor. His progress was so slow that he decided to shortcut the journey, falsifying his location through radio messages from his supposed course. Everyone following the race thought that he was winning, and a hero's welcome awaited him at home in Britain.

But on 10 July 1968, eight months after he set off, his wife was told that his boat had been discovered drifting in the mid-Atlantic. Crowhurst was missing, assumed drowned, and there was much speculation that this was one of the great mysteries of the sea.

In this masterpiece of investigative journalism, Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall reconstruct one of the greatest hoaxes of our time. From in-depth interviews with Crowhurst's family and friends and telling excerpts from his logbooks, Tomalin and Hall develop a tale of tragic self-delusion and public deception, a haunting portrait of a complex, deeply troubled man and his journey into the heart of darkness.

©1970 Times Newspapers Ltd. (P)2016 Hodder & Stoughton

What listeners say about The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The narrator is what really makes this book shine

The story is definitely interesting but the narrator took this to another level and his ability to impersonate the different characters is bar none.

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A truly strange tale

I want to say loved this book but it's hard to say about such a sad tale of desperation being lost as a soul and struggle to do what is right even when it's not in your ability to see the path or act on it
All of us can break and the human mind can be justcas fragile as it is resistant.
Lessons to be learned

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Well written and well read

Great unfolding of a classic sea story.
Tremendous lesson for those who may not quite fully respect the sea.
Indeed, one of the great see stories of all time

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Wallowing in failure

An Abridged version would be better. An interesting story, however having to live through his total failure isn't the best learning experience. The reader did a good job.

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  • Simon Zohhadi
  • 01-07-17

Many Lessons In This Excellent Book

Donald Crowhurst proves that highly intelligent (and brave) men can make many bad decisions, leading to ultimate failure. This brings into question: what really is intelligence? The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst is a fascinating account of his last voyage. Taking part in the global race was not enough for him. Deceit and ramblings about disembodied intelligence are consequences of his vanity. Nevertheless, all fascinating stuff. A very interesting but deeply flawed man. The best decision would have been to wait the following year to embark on the race but to Donald Crowhurst, hesitation was minus time and action plus time. Neither he nor the boat was ready. There are many lessons in this book.

My rating: 5/5. Highly recommended.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Rachel Redford
  • 01-09-17

'Tremble for the Man'

Since the disappearance of Donald Crowhurst at the end of the 1968-69 Sunday Times Golden Globe round the World Yacht Race, there have been all kinds of recreations in fact and fiction. This comprehensive and definitive account of Donald Crowhurst's voyage and of the man and his mind was published in 1970 by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall and has been released as a download in advance of The Mercy, the new film with Colin Firth as Crowhurst.

As a sympathetic, insightful and scrupulously researched account, it is excellent. Crowhurst, the adventurer, larger-than-life, clever, mercurial, set off on the race completely unprepared and by today's standards, inexperienced in his barely finished catamaran to sail single-handed across some of the most dangerous oceans of the world. The letter he left behind for his wife Clare to read if he did not return is loving and moving and shows a serious and apparently well-balanced mind. By the time he slipped into the waters of the Atlantic 243 days later he was well advanced into 'time madness,' into which lone sailors can descend, which led Crowhurst to be believe he was some kind of god or cosmic being who had unwrapped the secrets of metaphysics.

The authors have scrutinised every word of Crowhurst's voluminous log books, both his 'real' ones and his 'fake' log books with which he intended to fool the race officials that he had indeed circumnavigated the world and not merely circled aimlessly around the Atlantic. As an intimate insight into Crowhurst's mind it is brilliant, and listening to his agonies in 'life's tortuous game', you cannot but feel a terrible pity for him caught in the hideous position he had made for himself. As his arrival in Teignmouth approached closer and closer and radio messages reported the hordes waiting to welcome him it becomes almost unbearable. His obsession with Einstein fed his delusions and madness which in the end clouded even his deep love for his wife and children who were waiting to welcome him home.

It's a very fair, undramatic book (there's drama enough in Crowhurst's life) and the final assessment that he fell short of his own vision is a fitting epitaph. The narration is first rate and captures the whole spectrum of Crowhurst's feelings as his mind disintegrated.

2 people found this helpful

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  • toveyc1
  • 05-21-17

A man taken to the brink

This book is a fascinating look into the 'mind' of an intelligent and articulate man, who was brought to the very edge of sanity. The narrative is carefully constructed so that you can understand how Crowhurst got from A-B. B being the final scenario we are left with. Well written (although slightly meandering at times) and well read by the narrator. A perfect voice and pace for this subject matter. Crowhurst very much appears to be a jack-the-lad with a conscience. A victim of his own internal moral code.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Vicuña
  • 03-01-17

Huge con, hubris or a flawed ego?

If you could sum up The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst in three words, what would they be?

Astonishing, compassionate, honest.

What did you like best about this story?

Non judgmental; the facts are presented and the reader can draw a conclusion. The authors don't point fingers...

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Crowhurst's final night at home was memorable, but not enjoyable.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

His final night at home and some observations by his wife.

Any additional comments?

I followed this round the world yacht race as covered by the Sunday Times at the time and was bewildered and then angered by the cheating and duplicity. But this book goes below the public personna of Crowhurst. It reveals a flawed man; one whose ego and judgement ruled over practicality and common sense. His arrogance was rarely tempered, but his vulnerability and fears are laid bare in this account. Fascinating and compelling listening and I'm looking forward to the film.

1 person found this helpful

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  • nicolette king
  • 04-29-22

Amazing!

Extraordinary story of a man somewhat unprepared
for an extreme journey. One can only feel compassion for him. You could,nt make it up .Beautifully read and much respect to the journalists for untangling this complex story .

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  • svhappymondays
  • 04-28-22

Biblical

As a boat owner with only 500 nm under my belt
I found this a truly fascinating and profoundly saddening at the same time, the reading was fantastic and I just couldn't turn it off.

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  • Mrs Alison Moore
  • 04-22-22

Outstanding

This is a fantastic tragic story told with great style and compassion. Hard to believe it's true (but it is!), it stands as an extraordinary example of self-inflicted folly. The narrator is perfect for the book, and so the telling is gripping and every moment captivating. Outstanding.

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  • I M Sepion
  • 05-18-20

Amazing account of entrant to original GGR

I was totally enthralled by this account of the characters and certain of the events involved in the first Golden Globe Race, though I've never had any interest in yacht racing before, and particularly by Donald Crowhurst, who in spite of the deceipt was also revealed to have admirable qualities. In view of the miles he covered, I'm not sure why he did not feel able to sail to Cape Town and retire from the race there, with his dignity in tact. Even if this was risky, surely it would have been worth a try, bearing in mind the final outcome? The authors appear to have been even handed and fair in their narrative, and this moving tale has greatly sparked my interest to read accounts of the other competitors. I would certainly recommend this book to others.

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  • P. S. Clarke
  • 10-11-19

GRIPPING AND SAD

A tale of ambition and desperation, loneliness and resourcefulness, and an end of a mind beset with inner demons. A great story well told.

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  • Daithi
  • 06-08-19

Excellent Account of True Event

The only thing I found not so good was the factual ramblings of the log book which I know must be included. Maybe just to long from the writers point, a flavor would do as it looses the reader/listener