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Left For Dead: Shipwreck, Treachery, and Survival at the Edge of the World


The true story of five castaways abandoned on the Falkland Islands during the War of 1812—a tale of treachery, shipwreck, isolation, and the desperate struggle for survival


The bestselling author of Black Flags, Blue Waters tells the story of a wild encounter between an American sealing vessel, a shipwrecked British brig, and a British warship in the Falkland Islands during the War of 1812—an encounter fraught with misunderstandings and mistrust that left three British sailors and two Americans, including the captain of the sealer, Charles H. Barnard, abandoned in the Falklands for eighteen months. A tale of intriguing complexity, with surprising twists and turns throughout —involving greed, lying, bullying, a hostile takeover, stellar leadership, ingenuity, severe privation, endurance, banishment, the great value of a dog, the birth of a baby, a perilous thousand mile open-ocean journey in a seventeen-foot boat, an improbable rescue mission, and legal battles over a dubious and disgraceful wartime prize—Left for Dead shows individuals in wartime under great duress acting both nobly and atrociously, and offers a unique perspective on an important moment in American history.  


Praise for Left for Dead

Chosen as one of the best history books of May by the Editors at


Chosen as one of the best new books releases, May 7-13, by

"It’s a tale with all the elements of a movie blockbuster: shipwreck, mutiny, greed and a desperate struggle for survival in a hostile environment. There is also high-minded altruism, persistent backstabbing, drunkenness and—as if a movie executive had insisted it could only help the box office—a noble dog. . . . Dolin’s firm grasp of the 19th-century maritime world is undeniable. . . . This is a masterly account of a historical event."Bill Heavey, The Wall Street Journal

"It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that Dolin’s saga has as many twists and turns as a route through the mazy South Atlantic archipelago. . . . Dolin does justice to the drama of it all in a mere 259 pages of text without stinting on one of pleasures of reading 19th-century history: the wordsmithery of people high and low. He tells us that hungry castaways on one island called their makeshift abode 'Pinch-Gut Camp' and quotes an officer’s verdict on pilferage by members of his own crew: 'You might as well expect to squeeze honey out of a ship’s anvil, as to make an old marine or sailor honest.' The author of several previous books on such maritime topics as piracy and whaling, Dolin is an expert literary steersman."Dennis Drabelle, The Washington Post

"Bestseller Dolin (Rebels at Sea) unspools a fraught encounter on the Falkland Islands during the War of 1812 . . . This stunning account of shifting fortunes is riven with tension on every page, as Dolin provides detailed descriptions of bickering and backstabbing, tricky nautical maneuvers, and desperate survival techniques. It’s an edge-of-your-seat adventure."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"[G]ripping narrative. . . . I could continue to praise this book, but I'll end this review by urging you not to waste another minute—buy this book. It is worth your time and money."—Will Sofrin, Sea History

"Personal and political dynamics are also at the heart of Eric Jay Dolin’s Left for Dead, a Robinson Crusoe-level tale of survival shot through with mind-boggling, Russian-doll levels of treachery and betrayal. Massachusetts-based Dolin does an excellent job of bringing clarity to a story with permutations as complex as the coastline of the Falkland Islands, where the chance encounter that drives it takes place, shortly after the events of The Wide Wide Sea, in the early 19th century. . . . The twists and turns keep coming among a memorable cast of castaways. Copious photos and illustrations of local flora, fauna, as well as sites and principal players, are a welcome enhancement to a tale that barely needs it."—The Globe and Mail (Canada)

Left for Dead is a true tale of shipwreck, survival, betrayal and redemption featuring a complex web of multi-dimensional characters, set in one of the most desolate and remote island archipelagos, the Falklands, during the Age of Sail. An absorbing adventure that explores the dark shadows of instinct and self-preservation, and the hardships and stress that stretch the bonds of humanity. Fascinating reading.” —Stephen R. Bown, author of Island of the Blue Foxes: Disaster and Triumph on the World’s Greatest Scientific Expedition


"Eric Jay Dolin's depiction of early 1800s seafaring is filled with as much adventure, intrigue, action, and colorful characters as any classic Hollywood movie. Surviving a thousand-mile ocean journey in a small boat is just one of several scintillating ingredients. Left for Dead is a true account that reads like a grizzled sailor's tall tale." —Tom Clavin, author of Lightning Down: A World War II Story of Survival


"In Left for Dead, a handful of sailors abandoned on a remote island by their mates more than two centuries ago is only the beginning. Eric Jay Dolin delivers surprise after surprise. With a plot worthy of the best seafaring fiction, Dolin's gripping narrative has the added fascination of being entirely true."—Andrea Pitzer, author of Icebound: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World


“No one writes maritime history with as much passion and vibrancy as Eric Jay Dolin. Left For Dead transports us to the remote, wind-scoured Falkland Islands in the early 19th century and brings to life an unforgettable cast of characters: speculators, convicts, scallywags, sea captains, and captains of industry—driven by country, greed, and the will to live at any cost. This is narrative history (and natural history) of the highest caliber. A riveting, rollicking read.”Buddy Levy, author of Empire of Ice and Stone: The Disastrous and Heroic Voyage of the Karluk


Left for Dead is a truly extraordinary story told in gripping fashion and vivid detail, but – and this is what makes it all so amazing – none of it is fiction, it all, every bit of it, actually happened.”—Mensun Bound, author of The Ship Beneath the Ice: The Discovery of Shackleton’s Endurance

"In this exciting and meticulously detailed book, author Eric Jay Dolin recounts the incredible ordeal of Captain Barnard and his uneasy and untrusting shipmates. With twists and turns on nearly every page, Dolin details how the unlikely companions overcame great odds and adversity to survive the deadly winters in the Falkland Islands. Left for Dead is an incredible true story long overdue for exposure in the modern age, and Eric Jay Dolin does not disappoint."Quarterdeck

"A master of the maritime narrative, Dolin (Rebels at Sea, 2022) surfaces a submerged shipwreck story. . . . creating a work that will captivate a readership built from his many fans and all readers enamored of true tales of the high seas."Booklist

"A captivating castaway tale. Left for Dead is highly recommended."WindCheck Magazine

"An entertaining castaway tale."Kirkus Reviews

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