A Pirate Of Exquisite Mind

A Pirate Of Exquisite Mind : The Life Of William Dampier

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William Dampier, (1651-1715), was an English adventurer and pirate who preyed on ships on the Spanish Main. Poor and ill-educated and determined to make his fortune, he nonetheless had a passion for exploration and scientific research.

Dampier was the first to map the winds and currents of the world's oceans; led the first recorded party of Englishmen to set foot on Australia - 80 years before Cook; wrote about Galapagos wildlife 150 years before Darwin, who drew on Dampier's notes in his own work; was the first travel writer: A NEW VOYAGE AROUND THE WORLD was instant bestseller when it was published in 1697 - said to have influenced the novels of Swift and Defoe.

A man full of contradictions: he who achieved so much 'blew it' later in life, declining into scandal, failure and even farce. A unique man ahead of his time, he lived a large part of his life among pirates yet managed to preserve what Coleridge called his "exquisite refinement of mind". A classic example of the best narrative history.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 512 pages
  • 127 x 198 x 32mm | 346g
  • Corgi Books
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Illustrations, maps, ports.
  • 0552772100
  • 9780552772105
  • 28,997

Back cover copy

William Dampier is one of England's forgotten heroes. In 1676, he started his career as a poor buccaneer, preying on ships on the Spanish Main.  He could easily have ended up on the gallows for piracy. Instead, his sense of adventure and curiosity about the world around him led him to become the first person to circumnavigate the world three times, and to map the winds and the currents of the world's oceans. He landed in Australia eighty years before Cook and visited the Galapagos Islands one hundred and fifty years before Darwin. He wrote the first bestselling travel books, which inspired Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and Swift's Gulliver's Travels, and enriched the English language with many new words, from 'barbeque' and 'avocado' to 'sub-species'.

A curious man in a curious age, now all but forgotten in his native country, William Dampier combined a swashbuckling life of adventure with remarkable scientific achievements. In A Pirate of Exquisite Mind, Diana and Michael Preston reveal, in a compelling narrative, the story of a uniquely English hero.
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Review Text

"This eloquently enthusiastic biography, besides charting Dampier's astonishing achievements, offers fascinating information about his times"
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Review quote

"Lively... extraordinary life - an unlikely combination of plundering and pioneering achievements in natural history and exploration" * The Sunday Times * "Gripping and well-researched... An impressive achievement" * Guardian * "This long overdue biography wonderfully brings to life one of the most important explorers of the seventeenth century" -- Nathaniel Philbrick, author of In the Heart of the Sea "This eloquently enthusiastic biography, besides charting Dampier's astonishing achievements, offers fascinating information about his times" * The Age, Melbourne *
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About Diana Preston

Diana Preston is an Oxford-trained historian, writer, and broadcaster who lives in London. She is the author of The Road to Culloden Moor; A First Rate Tragedy: Robert Falcon Scott and the Race to the South Pole; The Boxer Rebellion and Wilful Murder: The Sinking of the Lusitania. Michael Preston, Diana Preston's husband, read English at Oxford University and is now an historian and traveller.
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Rating details

941 ratings
4.06 out of 5 stars
5 34% (320)
4 44% (413)
3 18% (165)
2 3% (32)
1 1% (11)
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