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A Pirate Of Exquisite Mind: The Life Of William  Dampier

A Pirate Of Exquisite Mind: The Life Of William Dampier [Kindle Edition]

Diana Preston , Michael Preston
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"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)

Book Description

A rip-roaring swashbuckler about a forgotten 17th century English hero who, starting as a poor, piratical buccaneer, became a famed round-the-world explorer.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2589 KB
  • Print Length: 516 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0552772100
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital; New Ed edition (14 Dec 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0054ZC126
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #48,236 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A buccaneer with empathy and intelligence 27 July 2010
Every time I started a new chapter in this book there was something to delight, inform, entertain or shock me. Delight in the descriptions of the remote places Dampier visited. Information on the history, politics, morals, religion and practices of the time: I learned a lot. Entertainment in the enormous adventure of his life and his interaction with the people he met and worked with. Horror at the hardships and living conditions of life on board ship and in the fragility of life in the early European colonies - imagine having to extract a two foot long worm from your leg as Dampier did.
What I was left with was a great admiration for Dampier. Even though he was an extremely tough man he displayed a sensitivity in his interaction with the native people he encountered, and made an intelligent and systematic analysis of the physical world and the environments in which he found himself.
This book combines the best of serious history with the best of biography. My only small reservation is that while the maps illustrated in the book are reproductions of maps made by Dampier himself, it would have been nice to have an immediate comparison with current geographical knowledge - I had to constantly refer to a modern atlas.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By G. M. Sinstadt VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
At different times in the late 17th Century William Dampier was both a Pirate (freelance criminal) and a Privateer (sponsored and semi-legal robber). His exploits in both guises were dangerous, eventful and ultimately less well rewarded than perhaps they deserved. Their telling makes for a rollicking yarn which - in Diana and Michael Preston's absorbing book - never glamourises an existence that often entailed extreme hardship. Yet the buccaneering alone would scarcely justify remembering Dampier three centuries later.

The truth is that this remarkable man was an acute observer and recorder of the world at large, its inhabitants, flora and fauna, without parallel in his own time and for many years thereafter. Three times he circumnavigated the globe, preceding Captain Cook in landing upon Australia. His first journey, shortly after his marriage, took him away for twelve years. Everywhere he went, Dampier looked, tested, tasted, made drawings and kept notes. His were the first descriptions in English of penguins, of zebras, of avocados,and many more. His theories of the interaction of winds and currents were similarly the first of their kind, their accuracy a source of knowledge for later generations. His published accounts of his travels were best-sellers.

Honoured in his lifetime by the great and the good of The Royal Society, drawn on by Daniel Defoe as a source for Robinson Crusoe, mirrored by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver's Travels, Dampier's reputation inexplicably fell into disregard during the 19th Century. In restoring it with scholarly research and in eminently readable style, the Prestons have done William Dampier the justice an exquisite mind deserves.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Diarist, Observer of Nature and Navigator 29 Jan 2009
For a pirate to retain a written account of his travels was a risky way of life, a fact which is apparent when Dampier needed to be careful with the content of his diary. That he survived so many adventures and returned to England to publish his story made him a very rare sailor indeed. He ranks with Pigafetta, who was Magellan's diarist and one of the few survivors of that expedition. If you are a sailor, you will be fascinated with his methods for getting about the oceans, at a time when measurement of longitude was not available to most seafarers.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommnend it to all readers with an interest in adventure, sailing or history of the Carribean.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first round-the-world backpacker ? 1 Oct 2005
By A Customer
Well written, especially in the earlier sections where there is perhaps more material from Dampier himself to rely upon.
I picked this up by chance needing something to keep me occupied while travelling. It is worth far more than just some airport novel. The book provides a fascinating view of the blurred reality between 17th century piracy, privateering, and defence of the realm. Moreover, it does so from the point of view of the (extra)ordinary seaman.
If your taste is for history or biography excluding footballers then this should not disappoint.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Swashbuckling adventure and intellectual odyssey 12 Jun 2012
By R Helen
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have a fascination with books on the Age of Discovery and sea travel before the 19th century. So it didn't surprise me that I would enjoy reading this book on William Dampier, a truly remarkable character. Dampier was, on the one hand a pirate, or a buccaneer to be more exact. Yet, he had an ability to observe, record, and understand the world around him like few have ever done. It is a wonder his name has been largely lost to history. I suppose this is because his observations were not officially sponsored, but rather made on his journeys as a pirate. How unfortunate he did not put his great mind to work in a more conventional setting. Perhaps he would be remembered with the likes of Cook and Darwin and we would be studying his thoughts and observations today. Instead, his greatest ambition was to seize a Spanish treasure ship (which never even gave him the riches he sought after) and the world lost a great explorer. Well worth a read as an introduction to a largely forgotten, but potentially important man.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Oim a bloody poirate!
I have recently started to read sea stories which began with 'The wreck of the whaleship Essex' which I can only highly recommend. Read more
Published 4 months ago by L. Cobham
4.0 out of 5 stars Great historical read about an amazing man!
This is an excellent read, well written exciting and interesting. Anyone who has an interest in maritime history or just history in general will love this book. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mike1865
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing
This is an amazing tale, and if you have any interest in the period I would strongly recommend it. The story is almost incredible, and the authors tell it with great skill so that... Read more
Published 13 months ago by RR
4.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening
Dampier is an interesting, determined, visionary character living in exciting times who I knew nothing about and is served well by this excellent book
Published 17 months ago by Richard England
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
This is a very well written and researched biography of one of those explorers that don't readily spring to mind when considering the greats of 17th and 18th century. Read more
Published 19 months ago by David E
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!
What an interesting book. William Dampier was an extraordinary man. I really enjoyed reading about his adventures. Read more
Published on 14 April 2012 by ronwooduk
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
I loved this book and couldn't put it down. What an amazing man and he has been given justice by a well written book. A gripping yarn.
Published on 23 Jan 2012 by fergus
4.0 out of 5 stars A salty good read
A good read, though the quality of the research is brought slightly into question by the inclusion in a footnote of the discredited urban legend that the word "tip" in derived from... Read more
Published on 18 Nov 2009 by Mambero
5.0 out of 5 stars great cracking read
oh what joy on finding what i once thought was lost. i had this book stolen in college and tried to buy it again many times on what is supposed to be the cheapest book selling... Read more
Published on 10 Nov 2009 by Popeye2471
3.0 out of 5 stars A Pirate of Exquisite Mind
Definitely a boy's book - lots of adventure and hardship but also some good interesting history. I thought the writing style was rather 'academic' and that the book was too long... Read more
Published on 2 Jun 2009 by Chrisglos
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