Article The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months


Mi Captain
MI.Net Member
Apr 30, 2019
When a group of schoolboys were marooned on an island in 1965, it turned out very differently from William Golding’s bestseller, writes Rutger Bregman

I began to wonder: had anyone ever studied what real children would do if they found themselves alone on a deserted island? I wrote an article on the subject, in which I compared Lord of the Flies to modern scientific insights and concluded that, in all probability, kids would act very differently. Readers responded sceptically. All my examples concerned kids at home, at school, or at summer camp. Thus began my quest for a real-life Lord of the Flies. After trawling the web for a while, I came across an obscure blog that told an arresting story: “One day, in 1977, six boys set out from Tonga on a fishing trip ... Caught in a huge storm, the boys were shipwrecked on a deserted island. What do they do, this little tribe? They made a pact never to quarrel.”
Rutger Bregman: the Dutch historian who rocked Davos and unearthed the real Lord of the Flies

...This is an adapted excerpt from Rutger Bregman’s Humankind, translated by Elizabeth Manton and Erica Moore.
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Amazing story and went straight to my reading list.
God, I hated that book when we had to read it in school… good to hear reality turned out a tad differently.
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I didn't hate Lord of the Flies, but but I can't say I enjoyed it either. Looking back it's quite misanthropic, and it's nice to know that it's not a given that people are going to react like the boys in that story did.

One of my favourite episodes of The Simpsons is Das Bus, a Lord of the Flies-lite episode where the kids wash up on a deserted island after a bus accident. "We'll live kings! Damn hell ass kings!". Makes me laugh every time.

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