In 1968, nine sailors set off on the most daring race ever held: to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe nonstop. It was a feat that had never been accomplished and one that would forever change the face of sailing. Ten months later, only one of the nine men would cross the finish line and earn fame, wealth, and glory. For the others, the reward was madness, failure, and death. In this extraordinary book, Peter Nichols chronicles a contest of the individual against the sea, waged at a time before cell phones, satellite dishes, and electronic positioning systems. A Voyage for Madmen is a tale of sailors driven by their own dreams and demons, of horrific storms in the Southern Ocean, and of those riveting moments when a split-second decision means the difference between life and death.
I recommend Nichols'
I've read other accounts of the race (including the excellent "The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst" and Moitessier's "The Long Way") which are fantastic accounts themselves and perhaps slightly more enjoyable.
Nichols' book excels in by providing a good description of everyone in the race. He is more interested in the technical differences between the competitors' boats and their tactics for dealing with the Roaring Forties than providing particularly deep character studies. However, it's a nice overview of the race and the people involved and makes for a compelling read.
The viewpoint Nichols adopts is that of someone who has done a bit of ocean sailing but not so much that he takes it for granted. This allows him, without sounding either too patronising or too technical, to explain the special features of long-distance cruising anno 1968 in such a way that they make sense to the average modern weekend sailor. From a "helicopter view" forty years on, we might conclude that what set Moitessier and Knox-Johnson apart from the others was that they were using boats in which they had already successfully made long voyages, whilst the others were either not so experienced or in untried purpose-built boats (in Crowhurst's case both). Nichols goes a bit deeper than this, and looks in detail at how the technical features of the boats and the psychological state of the sailors affected their chances of success (although of course luck and weather played a big part too). I found it particularly interesting how much the information (or absence of information) they had about the progress of their rivals affected all the participants.
Probably a good book to read if you haven't yet read La longue route and The strange voyage of Donald Crowhurst, but a bit redundant if you already have.