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SARIMANOK BY BOB HOBMAN

Bob Hobman’s “Sarimanok” is a riveting narrative that captures the spirit of adventure and the profound connection between humanity and the sea. This non-fiction account details the audacious voyage of the traditional sailing ship Sarimanok from Bali to Madagascar. Hobman’s writing is both poetic and factual, offering readers an immersive experience into the world of experimental maritime archaeology. 

The book opens with the construction of Sarimanok, a replica of an eighth-century outrigger ship inspired by the ancient vessels depicted in the stone friezes of the Borobudur stupa in Java. Hobman, driven by a passion to honor the maritime legacy of Southeast Asian sailors, embarks on this epic journey with a crew of equally dedicated individuals. The voyage is not merely a physical journey but a tribute to the ancient mariners who once sailed these waters, highlighting the sophisticated navigational and shipbuilding skills of the Indonesians long before European colonialism. 

Hobman’s narrative is rich with historical insights, detailing the migration of sailors from Southeast Asia to Madagascar, evidenced by linguistic, cultural, and genetic connections. The journey of Sarimanok is interspersed with reflections on these historical migrations, providing a comprehensive understanding of the seafaring traditions that shaped the Indian Ocean’s cultural landscape.

Hobman’s writing is engaging and descriptive, bringing to life the sights, sounds, and emotions of the journey. The book is structured chronologically, beginning with the preparation and construction of the ship, followed by the perilous voyage, and concluding with the triumphant arrival in Madagascar. Each chapter builds on the last, maintaining a steady pace that keeps readers engrossed.

One of the book’s strengths is its detailed portrayal of the challenges faced during the voyage. Hobman does not shy away from describing the harsh realities of life at sea—storms, navigational difficulties, and the ever-present danger of the ocean. These elements lend authenticity to the narrative, making the crew’s eventual success all the more rewarding. 

However, some readers might find the extensive historical context slightly overwhelming. While the historical insights are fascinating, they occasionally detract from the immediacy of the adventure. A more balanced integration of historical information and narrative action could enhance the overall flow.

Purchase the Book Today on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Ethan McCain
Date of Review: June 25, 2024

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SARIMANOK BY BOB HOBMAN

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