Last Man Off by Matt Lewis

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: This is why I didn’t join the navy.

Quick synopsis: First person retelling of the sinking of the Sudur Havid, a fishing boat which sank near Antarctica.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: When the Sudur Havid went fishing they put about 15,000 hooks in the water at one time.

Fun Fact for History Nerds: Same fact as above. That’s a lot of hooks!

My Take: This is a first-person retelling by Matt Lewis who was aboard the Sudur Havid when it sank. He admits he needed to reach out to the other survivors to fill in a lot of blanks and freely acknowledges not everyone agreed on every point which is refreshing more than concerning. Lewis tells a brisk story, giving very little introduction to both the boat and the people. In a way, it feels very much like he describes how he met everyone. Quick introduction and off to work. Before you know it, the boat is going down and the fight for survival begins.

Lewis is especially effective when describing the situation in the life rafts after the abandon ship (spoiler alert: it’s really cold). As a self-professed lover of the cold, his descriptions of South Georgia and the cold waters had me running for an extra blanket. Lewis is very often at the forefront of leadership when the ship goes down but also readily admits his own failures throughout the incident which lends credence to his reliability.

Verdict: This is a great book told from the first-person point of view. If you don’t care about survival stories, then there is noting in the book for you. It’s short, quick, to the point, and then ends.

If You Liked This Try:

  • Brian Murphy, Adrift
  • Caroline Alexander, The Bounty
  • Scott Walker, Coming Back Alive
  • Jennifer Niven, The Ice Master
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Last Man Off by Matt Lewis
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