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Reviews (by Author)

Reviews (by Title)


Author:  William M. Holden

Title: Dhow of the Monsoon

Publisher:  Publish America

Reviewer: W. H. McDonald, Jr. – AAA Founder

A Journey of Lifetime by a Sacramento Author in 1958

Sacramento author William M. Holden, whom I thought I casually knew from local book events and from his book “Sacramento Excursions Into Its History and Natural World.” However, I was not prepared for this fantastic adventure story of his personal experiences in his book “Dhow Of The Monsoon” which is the short title. The subtitle gives the book even more mystery, “From Zanzibar to Oman in the Wake of Sindbad: A memoir of a Man’s Adventure in His Youth.” This is one of those pleasant discoveries that makes you wonder why it took the author from 1958 when he set out on this personal quest until to 2005 to publish this memoir. It is a tale for the ages and conjures up visions of Indiana Jones or the voyages of ancient mariners.

The book begins in the middle of his story, as the younger Bill Holden is about to board an old teakwood boat called a “dhow” and sail from Zanzibar to India, or at least that was the initial plan. These boats are built exactly the same as they were some 3,000 years ago with no navigation equipment, no radios, no running lights and primitive accommodations for its crew. The crew, in this case, was 7 Indian Moslems with very little understanding of the English language, which left the author with no real meaningful conversations for the voyage. Holden has second thoughts about boarding the boat after seeing what they look like and thoughts of losing his life in some unknown part of the ocean. But he goes ahead and begins a true journey of a lifetime.

His story then flashes back to Sacramento where we learn why he planned this adventure. The birth of his dream actually began, of all places, at the Sacramento Library. He then sent a proposal letter to True Magazine to inquire if they would be interested in buying a story and the photos of his trip. Two weeks later they actually replied and liked the idea but told him they would take it on specmeaning there was no guarantee that they would buy his story when he came back.  That meant that he would be footing the entire cost of this trip from his own resources. That would entail flying half away around the world and then getting back home again to Sacramento.

We find out that this adventure story is a perilous one indeed and one worthy of any ancient explorer. Major storms called monsoons, or as they would probably call them in Florida hurricanes, made the sailing frightful at times.  Then there were the ever present sharks and the constant dangers of collisions with large ocean going ships (They had no running lights!) which are just more parts of the thrill ride the author enjoyed. Of course, nothing really ever goes as planned and they end up in Oman and not India.

There is so much more to his story about people, history, nature and even his own outlook at life. This is one riveting read and would actually make for a great movie. The old black and white photos add another level of enjoyment to the reading experience. If any non-fiction book could be called “a page turner” then this one qualifies. A fulfilling reading adventure for anyone who has dreamed of doing something daring and wild; now you can vicariously experience that thrill from your favorite arm chair!

My recommendation is to find out when Bill Holden holds some of his talks and personal appearances around the Sacramento area and then go hear him talk about his life stories. He has much to say and it will captivate you!


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