TAKING ON THE WORLD: A Sailor's Extraordinary Solo Race Around the Globe

Ellen MacArthur, Author . McGraw-Hill/International Marine $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-07-138227-4

No one can argue with MacArthur's prowess on the high seas. The 24-year-old made international headlines in 2001 for placing second in the Vendee-Globe, a nonstop, 26,000-mile race that she completed alone in 94 days. Unfortunately, this exhaustive memoir of MacArthur's coming-of-age as a sailor in landlocked Derbyshire, England, doesn't make for a triumphant maiden voyage into the literary world. The book begins with her birth ("I was not in the mood to come out, so Mum had to be induced three weeks after my expected arrival date") and spares no detail of her life thus far, including that Paddy, her pet duck, "considered me his closest family." The real action of this book—the race itself—doesn't begin until Chapter 16, and even then the adventure is recounted slowly. When MacArthur writes about bidding farewell to one of her greatest supporters as she is about to set sail for the odyssey of a lifetime, she says, "He pushed a hard-boiled egg and an apple into my hand; I hadn't wanted any breakfast that morning, and he knew I wouldn't have eaten anything since then." In the end, MacArthur's unfocused style transforms what must have been an exciting experience into a remarkably boring read. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/10/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-0-7710-5401-3
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-14-100697-0
Paperback - 353 pages - 978-0-07-143544-4
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 368 pages - 978-0-07-142572-8
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