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New book tells incredible story of abandoned castaways

Five mariners marooned in the Falkland islands during the War of 1812

  • Scott LaMar

Aired; May 20th, 2024


The story of Robinson Crusoe, published in 1719, is the most famous tale of a castaway. But Daniel Dafoe’s Robinson Crusoe was a work of fiction.

Best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin’s new book recounts the true story of five castaways in the Falkland Islands during the War of 1812.

It’s called Left for Dead – Shipwreck, Treachery and Survival at the Edge of the World.

Eric Jay Dolin, author of Left for Dead: Shipwreck, Treachery, and Survival at the Edge of the World.

The story that Dolin tells is one of incredible survival in the harshest of conditions.

The book’s publicist provides a good description: “Set against the backdrop of wartime conflicts, Dolin’s narrative weaves a compelling saga of a chance encounter between an American sealing vessel, a shipwrecked British brig, and a British warship. Misunderstandings and mistrust led to the abandonment of three British sailors and two Americans, including Charles H. Barnard, the captain of the sealer, in the unforgiving terrain of the Falklands for a harrowing eighteen months.

Left for Dead is a tale that unravels with intriguing complexity, offering surprising twists and turns. Reminiscent of David Grann’s The Wager, Left for Dead reveals a spectrum of human behavior under extreme duress—depicting instances of greed, deception, and bullying juxtaposed with stellar leadership, ingenuity, and remarkable endurance. The story unfolds with banishment, the profound value of a loyal companion, the birth of a child, a perilous thousand-mile open-ocean voyage in a mere seventeen-foot boat, an unlikely rescue mission, and ensuing legal battles over a contentious wartime prize.”

Eric Jay Dolin talked about the book and the story on The Spark Monday.


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