Brian Murphy’s new book Adrift: A True Story of Tragedy on the Icy Atlantic and the One Who Lived to Tell about It , with contributions from Toula Vlahou (Da Capo Press, 2018), tells the story of thirteen victims and a tragedy on the Atlantic Ocean.
The small ship making the Liverpool-to-New York trip in the early months of 1856 carried mail, crates of dry goods, and more than one hundred passengers, mostly Irish emigrants. Suddenly an iceberg tore the ship asunder and five lifeboats were lowered. As four lifeboats drifted into the fog and icy water, the last boat wrenched away from the sinking ship with a few blankets, some water and biscuits, and thirteen passengers. Only one would survive. This is his story.
As they started their nine days adrift more than four hundred miles off Newfoundland, the castaways – an Irish couple and their two boys, an English woman and her daughter, newlyweds from Ireland, and several crewmen, including Thomas W. Nye from Bedford, Massachusetts – began fighting over food and water. One by one, though, day by day, they died. Some from exposure, others from madness and panic. In the end, only Nye and his journal survived.
Using Nye’s journal and his later newspaper accounts, ship’s logs, assorted diaries, and family archives, Brian Murphy chronicles the nine days that thirteen people suffered adrift on the cold gray Atlantic sea.
Brian Murphy is a journalist at The Washington Post. He joined the paper after more than twenty years as an award-winning foreign correspondent and bureau chief for The Associated Press in Europe and the Middle East. He has three previous books, including 81 Days Below Zero, and currently lives in Washington, DC, with his wife Toula Vlahou.
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