The wreck of the Nottingham Galley on Boon Island and the resultant rumors of insurance fraud, mutiny, treason, and cannibalism was one of the most sensational stories of the early 18th century. Shortly after departing England with Captain John Deane at the helm, his brother Jasper and another investor aboard, and a skeleton crew, the ship encountered French privateers on her way to Ireland, where she then lingered for weeks picking up cargo. They eventually headed into the North Atlantic later in the season than was reasonably safe and found themselves shipwrecked on the notorious Boon Island, just off the New England coast. Captain Deane offered one version of the events that led them to the barren rock off the coast of Maine; his crew proposed another. The story contains mysteries that endure to this day, yet no contemporary non-fiction account of the story exists. In the hands of skilled storytellers Andrew Vietze and Stephen Erickson, this becomes a historical adventure-mystery that will appeal to readers of South and The Perfect Storm.
“With Boon Island: A True Story of Mutiny, Shipwreck, and Cannibalism, one of the most brutal survival stories in American history is finally—and fully—told in all its fascinating, gruesome infamy. Equal parts thriller, survival epic, horrifying history, and cautionary tale, if ever there was a story tailor-made for Hollywood, it is this. Masterfully written, Boon Island is that rare creature, a lively scholarly account and a gripping page-turner, that amply rewards history buffs and thrill seekers alike.”
—Matthew P. Mayo, author of Bootleggers, Lobstermen & Lumberjacks: Fifty of the Grittiest Moments in the History of Hardscrabble New England
"Although the shipwreck off the Maine coast of the Nottingham Galley took place in 1710, the authors—Vietze (Becoming Teddy Roosevelt) is former managing editor of Down East magazine, Erickson has a master's in American history—make it as real as today's news, drawing on several accounts by the captain, rebuttals by crew members, and even fiction stemming from the drama. Capt. John Deane portrayed himself as a great hero after his rescue from minuscule Boon Island, where his ship ran aground in the freezing winter. The first mate and other veteran sailors painted him as a "liar and a coward." The disaster itself gave rise to fascinating information about hypothermia, starvation, and cannibalism (the starving crew consumed the flesh of the ship's dead carpenter). The writers follow the men from the beginning of their journey, its strange perambulations, and the disaster, then through the rescue, the solace the crew received in Maine, and the continuation of their lives back home in England. Allegations of insurance fraud and the possibility that the English ship, for financial gain at an earlier date, could have made an agreement to be captured by French privateers create a maritime whodunit rife with twists and turns and high drama."
Andrew Vietze is an award-winning writer from Maine. The former Managing Editor of Down East: The Magazine of Maine, he's the author of six previous books and has written for a wide array of print and online publications, from Time Out New York to Weather.com, the New York Times' LifeWire to Offshore. A Registered Maine Guide, he works as a seasonal ranger in one of the premier wilderness areas in the east.
Stephen Erickson holds an MA in American History from UMASS /Amherst and completed coursework on a Doctorate in Early American History from the College of William and Mary. He frequently draws on his background in American history as political reformer. Erickson is currently the President of Americans United to Rebuild Democracy.