on December 3, 1997
While the story presented here in 'Adrift' is riveting and exciting, no matter how hard I tried I couldn't find any compassion for the author. It may be that for some people to survive, to not give up, requires an enormous sense of self importance, self involvement, and even arrogance. Regardless, the 'voice' the author wrote in was not sympathetic. Other books of survival, like Joe Simpson's book "Touching the Void" or books about singlehanded sailing like John Beattie's "The Breath of Angels" are written in a voice with some humility; you 'care' about the authors and pull for them to survive and get through their passages and ordeals. At the end of reading those books you feel uplifted, encouraged, enobled even; that the human race can produce such people. But that wasn't the case here. I think this would have been a much better book if it had been written biographically, that is, by someone else, rather than as an autobiography. Having said that, the story is still remarkable and the writing is, from a technical standpoint, very good. You won't be wasting your time or money to get it. Just be prepared if you find yourself occasionally rooting for the shark.
on August 4, 2003
I started reading this book because I wanted a great adventure story. This is not an adventure story. This is on the edge of death pure human suffering. Callahan is a very skilled seaman and very lucky man. His story is riveting and told very well. His story is so interesting, his writing skill, though quite good, really isn't necessary to read the book cover to cover. This book has many places where you want to sit down and cry with the man. I'm really tempted to give five stars, but I really wanted more information about his readjustment when he got back to land, but it ended fairly abruptly. Still, I feel I know Callahan's Dorado fish, his raft, and his feelings pretty well. He did a great job.
on July 15, 2004
Superbly written, which is why the book transcends the basic story of survival. Steve Callahan's ample opportunities for introspection weren't wasted, and this makes some of the best reading. In addition, reading this book is like watching a movie where the hero seems most certainly fated to die, buy you know he won't(or "doesn't" in this case). I eventually wanted to just skip to the rescue because I couldn't bear to read of any more disappointment, disillusionment, equipment loss or failures, or physical or mental suffering. Right up there with my favorite true-life read, "Hacksaw".
on July 28, 2005
I read this book in just a couple of sittings. Obviously, you know that somehow he survives, or the book wouldn't have been written- yet you often find yourself thinking "Well, that's it. No one could survive this setback." But somehow he does. And I could relate closely to the way he had the time to look inside, and see his life in a different way, having once spent seventy-nine days immobilized in a cast. An incredible story. Buy the book.
on June 11, 2003
This is an excellent,totally engrossing account of the author's quest to survive alone on the open seas for 76 days with a minimum of equipment and supplies. This is a real page-turner and is difficult to put down. Callahan faced his plight with a lot of courage, inventiveness and even humor. The parts dealing with him fighting off his shark companions are often quite funy. An excellent book for any fan of true-life adventures. Highly recommended
on August 27, 2003
This book is an excellent ocean survival story that kept me throughly entertained from start to finish. Honestly I couldn't put the book down. This book will change the way you look at your life. After you finish reading it, you won't take the simple things in life for granted anymore. If you enjoy true life adventure and survival books, then I suggest you read this one, it's excellent.
on November 6, 2012
Solo survival stories are always difficult to tell and especially so, if the canvas on which they are played out is desert, be it water or land. How do you fill the pages with 76 days of essentially the same, day in and day out, no conversations, no fights, because you are the only actor on stage?
Steven Callahan, the survivor, rose to that challenge in keeping you glued to page after page by leading you every day anew through physical pain, mental anguish, hope, despair, dogged perseverance and yes, even beauty. The ordeal made him also explore his inner self, not because of some idle philosophical musings, but because through his struggle for survival, he could see the essence of life stripped of any unnecessary acoutrements and be both awed by his continued existence and by life's continuum as he experienced it. There are some fine, almost mystical, accounts about the sea creature that sustained him and were in some sense also his companions in the lonely vastness of the Atlantic.
To those who critize this book as 'repetitive', all I can say is that any struggle for survival is repetitive, no matter whether experienced as a result of an accident, such as in this tale, or by the desperately poor anywhere. If you are looking for the equivalent of a reality 'survivor' show, with phony human drama and empty entertainment before the running cameras, 'Adrift' is the wrong place to find it. This is the real thing!
on December 25, 2001
As a former sailor who also is a wilderness survival buff, I would say that this book is mandatory reading for anyone anticipating a potential survival situation, particularly anyone making an extended yachting voyage. I was immediately struck by how the inclusion of two simple items in his survival gear, the solar stills and the speargun, saved his life. Obviously he asked himself the question when packing his survival kit, "what do I need to get myself out of the worst possible situation?". This question is essential in preparing for any potential survival situation. Even when going on a day hike in the mountains, I carry enough equipment to survive any situation.
I was also struck by the fact that a well equipped yachtsman of today would probably never encounter this situation, now that satellite (406MHz) EPIRBS, once activated, can report your exact position in about 15-20 minutes, and a rescue ship would be underway shortly thereafter. The author had an old, crude type of EPIRB that could only send signals to nearby planes, assuming that there were any. It was also fascinating that although he had flares, the ships he fired them at never saw them, which illustrates the fact that these ships are often on autopilot and no one is watching the water. I would urge anyone taking an extended ocean voyage to have a 406MHz EPIRB (not a 121.5 MHz EPIRB as the primary!), backup communication devices (VHF radio, satellite phone, second EPIRB), as well as one of the small hand-pump desalinators. These items are not cheap, but what is the value of your life?
Regarding the literary value of the book, I was somewhat less than impressed. It was written in a log entry form, probably taken directly from his own survival diary. Also, he apparently never had the spiritual epiphany that would be expected of an individual in that situation.
on October 28, 2001
Steve's survival story is truly amazing. While reading I felt like I was right there, lost at sea. Being lost at sea for seventy-six days and surviving to tell the story is incredible. The risk of sailing across the Atlantic by himself takes a lot of courage, but to keep on going after you see your survival gear fall helplessly to the bottom of the ocean is something else. I felt Steve Callahan's pain and glory during his story. The burning sun roasting his body and the waves pummeling his raft. Not having any dry clothes for over two months. But then your adrenaline starts going again when he sees a boat in the distance or a plane flying over. You think He'll be saved. But then nothing. Back to the horror. Mr. Callahan does and excellent job of putting the reader right there to take the ride all over again. The reader knows the outcome of the journey because Steve survives, but can't help wondering and feeling what is going to happen next. Steve Callahan's journey across the Atlantic can only serve as inspiration to others. He never gave up hope and did what had to be done to survive. It just shows that no matter how bad the situation may be, one can persevere. Steve put me in that place with him and what an incredible ride he took me on.
on August 12, 2001
I've read this book several times and have always been mesmerized by it. While it is a stirring tale of man against the sea, it is also a great story of a man dealing with crisis, with loneliness, with self-doubt. I've recommended this book to many people I've known who were in the midst of dealing with personal crisis---illness, divorce, loss of employment and such. All of them have told me that the book moved them and helped them.
All of us can be "adrift" in life, feeling we're cut off from what is important to us, that the world seems to be against us. Callahan's experience shows that it is possible to meet crisis with faith in God, faith in oneself, ingenuity and just sheer perseverence. That if you do not lose hope, that if you endure, landfall and rescue are eventually going to happen. What I thought was most inspiring about Callahan's book was that, after all he'd been through, he continued to go sailing. Lesson? That no matter how difficult an experience you've had, in a lousy job, a bad relationship or whatever, that after you've reached landfall and have recovered, you "set out to sea" again, seeking new challenges, new relationships, and new knowledge about oneself.