Review: Swiss Family Robinson book (a toungue in cheek review)

by Nathan Stout (of

Look out Al Gore! Beware PETA… here come The Swiss Family Robinson! Tree huggers and animal kisser beware this family is out… FOR BLOOD!

Ahem… sorry about that. The Swiss Family Robinson was written in 1812 by Johann David Wyss and edited by his son (junior). It was Johann’s retelling of Robinson Crusoe with a more moral, family focus.

The story is about a Swiss family who is shipwrecked at some remote location where they have to fend for themselves for more than ten years. The story takes you through every step of the first several weeks and on through until the time when they are found. Oops, I hope I didn’t ruin it for you.

The father and his four sons learn all sort of useful things through their adventures in this wilderness. The book painstakingly describes everything from the skinning of certain animals to the husbandry practices of birds. The father is a walking encyclopedia of information. Infact I found it a little distracting that he has so much knowledge at his fingertips. I could just be a modern day dunce but man can that dude recall facts! Back in the 1800’s it could be very true that someone who is relocating to Australia as basically a pioneer could be that smart but somehow I disagree. He pulls facts out of his ass with so much regularity that it isn’t believable at time. Oh well, it’s just a book right?

The father and his sons go about the uninhabited location shooting every animal in sight. I swear there is more animal bloodshed in this book than anything I have ever read or seen in my life. The are killing animals left and right. The father always points out ways the dead animals can provide this or that for the family but really, it’s like apocalypse now for the PETA crowd.

As I began the book (listening to the audio book) I quickly became amused with how often the family stopped and prayed. It was getting out of hand there for a while. I looked up information on this book and discovered that it was written by Mr Wyss who was a minister. So that explains it! Soon with all the animal killing I didn’t notice the praying so much anymore.

The book chronicles all the animals the family comes across as well as all the plant life they encounter and are able to cultivate and grow. The family is indeed well cared for, they have everything you can think of. On some more reading I discovered how the book was bashed by people because it had animals and plants that have never been on the same continent even. It appears to be a mish mash of locations… a fantasy isle if you will.

Ten years down the road they finally come across a British ship and eveyone is so happy. They plan to leave but most have second thoughts and all but one of the kids stay on the island to live in their paradise of unnatural killing and death. I kid I kid!

I enjoyed the book but it really could have been cut down quite a lot with the lengthy descriptions of absolutely everything they did from day to day but since this book was written so long ago I just need to shut my mouth and move on.

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