Wayward Sailor: In Search of the Real Tristan Jones

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9780071402514: Wayward Sailor: In Search of the Real Tristan Jones

In Search of the Real Tristan Jones.
A thoroughly researched and absorbing account of Tristan Jones's lives-the one he created for himself, and the one he actuall lived. A necessary book for anyone who has read his books with enjoyment or suspicion or both. An uncompromising yet admiring biography. 350 pages. HB

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Review:

"An arresting study of a sailor who invented himself as a modern hero and kept embellishing the legend until truth and fiction were impossible to pinpoint...Should appeal to all those who love adventure..." - Publishers Weekly "Valuable, compelling, and sobering." - Sailing "I was enchanted from start to finish by Wayward Sailor." - John Rousmaniere, author, After the Storm and Fastnet, Force 10"

From the Back Cover:

He died in 1995, but his nautical adventure books continue to bring entertainment and escape to legions of fans worldwide. He was larger than life, perhaps the most successful sailing writer of the twentieth century. But, as Anthony Dalton's meticulously researched biography reveals, Tristan Jones was not who he said he was.

Wayward Sailor began as an uncomplicated tribute to a great adventurer and writer, but one line of inquiry branched to another, plunging Dalton into a three-year odyssey of his own. With the cooperation of Tristan's friends and supporters, Dalton pursued Tristan's life through correspondence, logbooks, government documents, and interviews worldwide. With each new revelation, Tristan's voyage through life seemed more and more like his greatest adventure.

His real name was Arthur Jones. He was born in Liverpool in 1929, the illegitimate son of a working-class Lancashire girl, and he grew up in orphanages with little education. Too young to see action in the World War II naval battles he would later write about so movingly, he joined the Royal Navy in 1946 and served fourteen unremarkable years.

Arthur Jones then bought an old sailboat and tried his hand at smuggling whiskey cross-Channel. In his early thirties he sailed into a Mediterranean limbo, scraping a living from charters by day and haunting the bars of Ibiza by night. When he was drunk, which was often, he could be loud and obnoxious and had the scars to prove it. He had no family, no attachments, no accomplishments.

Then came a midlife sea change. Arthur Jones looked into his future, imagined greatness, and began to claw his way to it. Having taught himself to sail, he taught himself to write. He was a natural at both. As Tristan Jones, in his midforties, he sailed out of Brazil's Mato Grosso and into a Greenwich Village apartment to write six books in three years and reinvent his past.

The Tristan Jones of his books was born in a storm at sea in 1924 on his father's tramp steamer; was torpedoed three time in epic World War II engagements; completed the first circumnavigation of Iceland; traveled farther north and farther up the Amazon River than any sailor before him; and sailed more than 400,000 miles, 180,000 of them solo. Readers loved his books and crowded his lectures and signings. He had a bard's voice and a street performer's delivery. He had more renown than he could have dreamed.

Having invented a life, Tristan Jones tried to live it. After the amputation of his left leg in 1982 he sailed more than halfway around the world. He lost his right leg in 1991 yet still returned briefly to sea. But as his body failed him, so too did his spirits. It was as if the life from which he'd bodily lifted himself were pulling him down again. He died a bitter man.

Wayward Sailor is the biography Tristan Jones did not want. His books were autobiographical, he said; there was no more to tell. But there was. Wayward Sailor is the last Tristan Jones story and the most incredible one of all: the story of a man who invented himself.

THIS BIOGRAPHY OF SAILING'S BEST-KNOWN STORYTELLER IS THE MOST INCREDIBLE TRISTAN JONES STORY OF ALL

No one really knew Tristan Jones. He lived sixty-six years and managed to keep the first forty a mystery. He told us what he wanted us to believe, and he told the tales so well that we either believed or suspended disbelief. He was another Jack London, and escaping into his briny books will always remain a singular pleasure.

Yet even Tristan's most skeptical readers will marvel at the breadth of his deceits. As revealed in this uncompromising yet admiring biography, the real Tristan Jones was both a lesser and a greater man than his invention. He rejected the hand fate dealt him and dealt himself another. Enormously creative, he was, himself, his most creative act.

"Wayward Sailor is a thoroughly researched and absorbing account of Tristan Jones's lives--the one he created for himself, and the one he actually lived. This is a necessary book for anyone who has read Tristan Jones's stories with enjoyment or suspicion, or both."--Derek Lundy, author, Godforsaken Sea and The Way of a Ship

"I was enchanted from start to finish by Anthony Dalton's biography, in which he proves that Tristan Jones's most brilliant creation was his own fascinating life story. Jones may not have been a lovable fraud but he certainly was a brilliant one, as Dalton makes clear in this careful and generally sympathetic book."--John Rousmaniere, author, After the Storm; Fastnet, Force 10; and The Annapolis Book of Seamanship

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