- Marooned: The Strange but True Adventures of Alexander Selkirk, the Real Robinson Crusoe
Robinson Crusoe has attained a fame even beyond Defoe's novel, but Alexander Selkirk, the real-life maroon who inspired Crusoe's story, remains largely unknown. In this slender volume, Kraske provides an overview of the eighteenth-century sailing master's experience after he was put ashore from his privateer vessel onto a deserted island off the coast of South America, surviving there for five years until his rescue by an English ship. When he returned to Britain after further adventures, he became a minor celebrity, but he mourned the lost contentment of his island, to which he would never manage to return. This is lighter on survival story than one might expect, but the book's conciseness will be a virtue to page-shy readers, and the particulars of Selkirk's subsistence and adaptation are absorbing. Beyond that is a colorful look at the life of an eighteenth-century mariner sailing the high seas, plundering ships for Spanish gold, and preferring danger, disease, and desertion to life in civilization, so seafaring readers not ready for Marrin's Henry Morgan biography, Terror of the Spanish Main (BCCB 2/99), should find this a bracingly salty outing. Full-page illustrations introduce each chapter, while several maps clarify the geography of Selkirk's travels and island realm. There are no notes, but an author's note, glossary, and selected bibliography are included.