The Wreck of the Medusa The Most Famous Sea Disaster of the Nineteenth Century, by Miles, Jonathan
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- ISBN: 9780802143921 | 080214392X
- Cover: Paperback
- Copyright: 11/1/2008
In June 1816, the Medusa, flagship of a French expedition to repossess the colony of Senegal from the British, set sail. She never arrived at her destination. Commanded by an incompetent captain, the frigate ran aground off the desolate West African coast. During the chaotic and cowardly evacuation, a privileged few claimed the lifeboats, while 147 men and one woman were herded aboard a makeshift raft that was soon cut loose by the very boats that had pledged to tow it to safety. Those on the boats made it ashore and undertook a two-hundred-mile trek through the sweltering Sahara, but conditions were far worse on the drifting raft, which carried its passengers to the very frontier of human experience. Crazed, parched, and starving, the diminishing band fell on itself; mayhem, mutiny, and murder ensued. When rescue arrived thirteen days later, only fifteen were alive. Among the handful of survivors were two men whose best-selling account of the tragedy scandalized Europe and inspired the promising artist Theodore Gericault. Reeling from an illicit affair with his young aunt, he threw himself into a study of the Medusa tragedy, turning it into a vast canvas. Jonathan Miles's The Wreck of the Medusa witnesses atrocity and outrage turned into a best seller, and that best seller transformed into one of the most unforgettable masterpieces of Western art. Book jacket.