A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer: The Life of William Dampier

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Bloomsbury Publishing USA, May 26, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 416 pages
6 Reviews
Darwin took his books aboard the Beagle. Swift and Defoe used his experiences as inspiration in writing Gulliver's Travels and Robinson Crusoe. Captain Cook relied on his observations while voyaging around the world. Coleridge called him a genius and "a man of exquisite mind." In the history of exploration, nobody has ventured further than Englishman William Dampier. Yet while the exploits of Cook, Shackleton, and a host of legendary explorers have been widely chronicled, those of perhaps the greatest are virtually invisible today-an omission that Diana and Michael Preston have redressed in this vivid, compelling biography.

As a young man Dampier spent several years in the swashbuckling company of buccaneers in the Caribbean. At a time when surviving one voyage across the Pacific was cause for celebration, Dampier ultimately journeyed three times around the world; his bestselling books about his experiences were a sensation, influencing generations of scientists, explorers, and writers. He was the first to deduce that winds cause currents and the first to produce wind maps across the world, surpassing even the work of Edmund Halley. He introduced the concept of the "sub-species" that Darwin later built into his theory of evolution, and his description of the breadfruit was the impetus for Captain Bligh's voyage on the Bounty. Dampier reached Australia 80 years before Cook, and he later led the first formal expedition of science and discovery there.

A Pirate of Exquisite Mind restores William Dampier to his rightful place in history-one of the pioneers on whose insights our understanding of the natural world was built.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JBD1 - LibraryThing

A decent overview of the life of William Dampier, who could indeed be described as a pirate, explorer, naturalist, &c. given all the various and disparate things that he managed to do during his career. A bit overly digressive at times, but other than that, a good read. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - msf59 - LibraryThing

I read this, as part of my first group read. It's a terrific biography! The research was awe-inspiring and the narrative flow was perfect. Pirate or not, Dampier was one heck of an explorer and naturalist, just sadly neglected. I highly recommend it! Read full review

Contents

Prologue
1
THE ADVENTURER
19
A SelfConceited Young Man
23
A Great Prospect of Getting Money Here
32
To Seek a Subsistence
44
A Door to the South Seas
52
That Sacred Hunger of Gold
65
Two Fat Monkeys
84
Our Little Ark
182
Gut Rot and Gunpowder
190
The Painted Prince
203
The Rovers Return
215
Good Copy
229
Dampiers Voyage Takes so Wonderfully
242
Kiss My Arse
250
Sharks Bay
265

The Bachelors Delight
97
The Enchanted Islands
109
We Ran for It
121
THE TRAVELER
138
You Would Have Poisoned Them
139
As White as Milk and as Soft as Cream
147
This Mad Crew I 59
159
NewGotten Liberty
177
A Flame of Fire
275
Not a Fit Person
284
Brandy Enough
301
The Manila Galleon at Last
311
Notes and Sources
337
Bibliography
349
Art Credits
355
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Born and raised in London, Diana Preston studied Modern History at Oxford University, where she first became involved in journalism. After earning her degree, she became a freelance writer of feature and travel articles for national UK newspapers and magazines and has subsequently reviewed books for a number of publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times. A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist and Buccaneer: The Life of William Dampier (Walker & Company, April 2004) is a new biography of the 17th-century British explorer, naturalist, scientist, pirate and buccaneer William Dampier coauthored by Diana and her husband, Michael Preston.

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