Around the World in 79 Days

Cam Lewis, Author, Michael Levitt, With
Cam Lewis, Author, Michael Levitt, With Delta $12.95 (8p) ISBN 978-0-385-31326-1
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The canny authors of this memoir about a real-life race to sail around the world exploit to the fullest its rather tenuous connection with Jules Verne's classic adventure novel. In January 1993, a crew of four Frenchmen and one American-author Lewis, a professional American sailboat racer-set out to circumnavigate the globe in the Commodore Explorer, a multihull catamaran, and to best the fictional 19th-century 80-day record of Phileas Fogg and Passepartout. Of course Fogg et al. did not travel solely by water, so the routes were not analogous. Nor did they have the benefit of telexed weather reports, faxes or a press agent hovering nearby in a helicopter to pick up their film. However, the modern-day authors' decision to insert literally Verne's classic story into this narrative via copious (copyright-free) excerpts occupying almost half the book does pay off, infusing the breezy writing with a feeling of genuine adventure it otherwise lacks. Also enlivening Lewis's memoir are observations on a variety of related topics, ranging from famous explorers to a detailed explanation of longitude and latitude. Lewis's real-life experiences-his difficulties in communicating with the French-speaking crew, loss of sleep, rough seas and primitive facilities-are far less exciting than the enthralling drama of his fictional counterpart. But the combination of both stories is a winning one. Photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)
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