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Published in the UK by
Jonathan Cape
Penguin Random House

UK paperback
Penguin Random House


an incredibly gripping book … Miles’s masterful work is … a powerful read
Siofra Pierce, The Irish Times

enthralling ... Miles’s unpicking of his two stories is impressive and he tells them with admirable lucidity
Michael Prodger, The Sunday Telegraph

a thrilling read
Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian

Jonathan Miles reconstructs one of the most riveting relationships in modern cultural history … Miles has a
novelist’s eye for intrigue and detail which keeps the narrative building …
Kelly Grovier, The Observer

Miles has a voracious pen and a veracious purpose ... Skilful ... vivid ... history dressed as fiction
Alex Danchev, Times Literary Supplement

in his authoritative study Miles navigates a broad canvas, taking in a swathe of history, the sinking, the
scandal, the painting and the politics. The book grips from the start … packed with all the elements of a
ripping yarn Miles’s account of the voyage is compelling … a scholarly, gripping and grisly read to get
swept up in, though it’s definitely one for the flight rather than the cruise
Lynn McCarry, The Herald

Miles does not flinch from delivering the full story ... compelling
Arabella Edge, The Daily Telegraph

this fascinating account … expertly explored
William Boyd, The Spectator

a compelling picture of disaster, desperation and dishonour
The Sunday Telegraph

Miles’s consistently fascinating and vivaciously written book: a palpable sense of anger … so effectively
powers his descriptive writing. He captures the sense of rising alarm as the ship approaches its fate, and
pulls out all the stops when describing conditions on the raft … if there are times when Miles seems to be
writing more like a novelist than a historian it doesn’t matter
Andrew Motion, The Guardian

Miles held my attention from the first scene
Christopher Hudson, ‘Critic’s Choice’ -The Daily Mail

combining a gripping narrative … with an insightful analysis
Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times

an impressively balanced illumination of the social, political and artistic dimensions of events … immense
readibility, an observant eye for telling detail and a dry, understated wit
Philip McEvansoneya The Eire Sunday Business Post

Philip Hook , The Royal Academy Magazine

Both meticulously accurate and profoundly imaginative.
Rupert Christiansen, Literary Review

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The spellbinding characters and lucid writing make this a genuine page-turner
Winston F. Groom, author of 1942, Patriotic Fire and Forrest Gump

Hard to put down … The saga of Gericault’s Medusa also illuminates vividly a little known period of French history
Sir Alistair Horne, author of La Belle France and The Savage War of Peace

With powerful prose and riveting detail, Jonathan Miles has taken the story behind one of the world's most famous paintings and woven it into a timeless tale of betrayal and survival
Candice Millard, author of The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey


The Raft of the Medusa hangs in the Louvre, and its artistic significance is well known — its intimate depiction of emotional wretchedness helped stimulate the Romantic movement. Less known is that the painting played an intriguing role in volatile Restoration politics, the result of a collaboration between the artist and one of the wreck’s survivors, now enthrallingly recounted in The Wreck of the Medusa by Jonathan Miles. Although marketed as another sea disaster tale (and the wreck is grippingly recounted), the book is as revealing about the powerfully resistant art of two colorful figures in post-Napoleonic France. ... The narrative is brilliantly meted out. Sections alternate among the wreck itself, the tortured and bizarre life of the artist and the political upheavals in France.
The New York Times & International Herald Tribune

Jonathan Miles, the author of this excellent account, tells the story quickly and well. … Miles has taken a shipwreck and placed it into its political and historical and artistic context. We can only hope he writes more books as fine and compelling as The Wreck of the Medusa.
Anthony Brandt – The American Scholar

part ripping yarn, part political analysis and part art history … compulsive, page-turning stuff … Miles has powerfully retold a tale that is still, as it was two centuries ago, more disturbing than fiction
Martin Gayford, Bloomberg News

Miles shows consummate skill in rendering the richly varied atmosphere of the African coast … His portrait of Paris under the newly restored Bourbon regime is no less brilliant in evoking the atmosphere of a city weakened by avarice, corruption, and indifference. … Miles' superbly drawn Gericault
Dean Ferguson, editor of Transformation (San Francisco) in MRZine

The story is riveting enough on its own macabre merits, but Miles makes it more gripping still, chiefly through his deft reconstruction using scattered accounts and conflicting records.  He also makes a wise casting decision: as heroes, we get the Medusa survivor Alexandre Correard and the contemporary painter Theodore Géricault - Miles uses their contrasting personalities to forge a sort of Gallic Woodward-and-Bernstein dialectic, then pits the pair against the newly restored Bourbon monarchy and its shameful post disaster attempts at saving face by suppressing the facts.
Atlantic Monthly

A compelling read
Publishers Weekly

Miles proves to be both an astute art historian and a dramatic chronicler of the catastrophe…. Miles crafts a captivating gem about art’s relation to history
Gilbert Taylor, Booklist

A shipwreck, a bestselling 19th-century novel, a half-crazed artist and political intrigue all would seem to be elements of a Dan Brown thriller. But Jonathan Miles' The Wreck of the Medusa is history, and the author presents it in a most compelling manner, with two off-kilter characters, artist Theodore Gericault and writer/shipwreck survivor Alexandre Correard, driving the story.
Pittsburgh Tribune

A spellbinding account ... Gripping, mesmerizing, and so unbelievably horrible you won't believe it ever happened, The Wreck of the Medusa is narrative history at its finest.
Patum Peperium

The Wreck of the Medusa is an exciting and highly readable adventure story with skilfully interwoven narratives of a famous sea disaster and the political trials of Restoration France … The strength of Miles’ book is its ability to tell many tales at once
Library Journal (starred review) erudite history that is as thrilling as any sea adventure, Jonathan Miles blends the political, personal, and artistic elements of the Medusa episode to paint a captivating portrait of a volatile era.
Anna Mundow, The Boston Globe


A page-turner of a book
Jerusalem Post

Serialized in The Times Magazine

Feature article in The Telegraph Magazine

Michael Prodger chose Medusa as his Sunday Telegraph Summer Reading Pick, calling it ‘enthralling’.

Chosen for Daily Telegraph Summer Reading Selection
‘an innovative life of the Romantic pioneer Gericault, as well as a virtuoso examination of the painter’s most controversial and famous work’

The Daily Mail – Critic’s Choice

Irish Daily Mail on Sunday – Book of the Week

The Week – Book of the Week


From ‘Library Thing’

you get a lot out of this book: naval history, 19th century French political history, art history and it has enough depictions of humanity at its worst that one might even classify it as having "true crime" elements. Highly recommended.

From ‘GoodReads’

Fascinating, gripping and gruesome in its reality and writing. ... This is a great history book that reads like a novel.

A chilling tale of a colonization attempt gone horribly wrong. It also gives insight into how feudal notions of class played out following the downfall of Napoleon and the restoration of the French monarchy. It will give you more nightmares than anything Stephen King wrote.

Miles's retelling of the story of the wreck and the abandoned raft is full of grisly thrills, but his account of its effects on Géricault and his art is of heart-wrenching humanity.

Miles' work is an excellent piece of scholarship that is also a ripping good yarn of a wreck at sea and human survival at its rawest. It also a study of a cover-up and justice, both gained and tragically denied. In telling the story behind Gericault's memorable painting, Miles demonstrates how events can influence art, and how art in turn can
influence events. … Whether you are a Historian, Art Historian or just someone looking for a good book that provides food for thought, Jonathan Miles' vivid account of the Medusa and its fate is well worth a read.

I read this book last year and thoroughly enjoyed every word. The author does a superb job of placing you on the raft and in the middle of the action. … I was struck, page after page, by the similarities between the incompetence of the French officials in choosing expedition personnel and the Bush administration’s handling of the Katrina aftermath. Do yourself a big favor and add this one to your reading list.

Although there is horror to spare in the details of the shipwreck, I was most moved by the story of Gericault's love affair with his uncle's wife and of the unhappy fate of their abandoned child.

Miles's storytelling is so vivid, down to the last historical detail, that I soon forgot Medusa is not a novel. Compelling, hypnotic, fascinating.

I really enjoyed this book, which was beautifully written and very readable. Thoroughly recommended.

Very well written, totally unannoying, profound, moving, informative,'s wonderful.



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emozionante, avvincente e in molti tratti sconcertante - narra le incredibili vicende che portarono alla realizzazione di uno dei piu grande capolavori della pittura dell'Ottocento europeo
(Exciting, compelling and unnerving in many places - narrates the incredible events that led to the creation of one of the greatest masterpieces of the nineteenth century)
l Sole 24 Ore

uno splendido libro a metà tra il saggio storico e il romanzo d'avventura.
(a superb book that is both an erudite history and an adventure novel) 
GQ Magazine

la Repubblica

The story of the "Raft of the Medusa" appears not to be a chronicle of the nineteenth century but a fierce and visionary anticipation of our present.
Il prof. S.G. Azzarà

Jonathan Miles has created an extraordinary book in the best Anglo-Saxon tradition … meticulous research and compelling writing

Qui comincia - Dec 6th 2010 - uno bellisimisso libro – a very beautiful book
RAI RADIO 3 - Book of the Day


Le Radeau de la Méduse

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