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4.7 out of 5 stars
Cochrane: The Story of Britannia's Sea Wolf (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS)
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2002
This book was first published in 1978 but has now been re-released to the benefit of all who enjoy a fast-paced historical account. After reading this book I am amazed that it has taken nearly twenty years to be re-released. What a great story Mr. Thomas tells of Thomas, Lord Cochrane, later the 10th Earl of Dundonald. From his birth through to his death covering all his exploits in numerous sea battles and actions, so many in fact that you find it hard to believe that he survived.
The book covers Cochrane's battles during the Napoleonic Wars during which, on many occasions, he sent his ship in action against overwhelming odds. It was during this period that he was recognized, as one of Britain's most daring and successful captains. It was also during this period that he made many enemies, although he pressed hard in every action and took many risks, he always considered the well being of the men under his command. This later led to his single-handed campaign against corruption in the Admiralty.
Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 Cochrane commenced an extraordinary career as a mercenary admiral. He subsequently commanded the navies of Chile and Brazil and launched campaigns against their protagonists, Spain and Portugal. After finishing his 'little wars' in South America he took command of elements of the Greek navy in their war against the Turks. In all these campaigns Cochrane again showed that he was one of the best naval commanders of his time.
The narrative flowed along smoothly and although I have no great knowledge of maritime history I had no problems in following this story. In over 350 pages of text along with a number of black & white plates and a few maps Mr. Thomas tells a wonderful and exciting story. This is the type of book, which I am sure any person who has a love for history or who enjoys the novels of C. S. Forester and Patrick O'Brien will just love. A must for any serious student of naval tactics or Napoleonic warfare.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2001
Putting down the book after reading it one would almost wish never to have read it - in order to be able to read it at once again. Having read the Hornblower books one can see that Forester has borrowed heavily from Cochranes exploits, the only difference is the results on their careers: Hornblower was lauded after every deed while in the real life Cochrane became more and more hated by the people in power for everý succes he had. And this is the only weakness of the book, it describes his impopularity but fails to explain in clear way why he became so hated and in fact forced to leave England for many years - adding to his fame in the South American fight for freedom from Spain. But it seems rather odd that England could withstand the might of France with such blockheads in all the leading positions, perhaps the description of these is a little tainted by the authors sympathy for Cochrane. All is well when the end is well, though, and there is a happy ending, even if the hero had almost to outlive his enemies to get his dues.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 2013
This man should be so much better known than he is in his native Britain. His exploits are the stuff of legend (and indeed some of them have been well used in fictional tales) and it is so sad that hardly anyone now remembers his life and contribution to the British Navy
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Having read all the Hornblower novels and recently started on the Aubrey ones, it is with amazement that I've been reading the biography of Cochrane. "Master and Commander", especially, *is* Cochrane's early adventures as commander of the "Speedy", including the attack and capture of the "El Gamo", even substituting the ship's doctor, Mr. Guthrie, for Stephen Maturin taking the ship's wheel as the rest of the crew were all involved in the boarding!
Donald Thomas has written a fantastic book, which does read as a novel in many respects and Cochrane comes across as a man worthy of real respect and honour. And I can only agree with the earlier reviewer who said the corruption in the Admiralty made his blood boil.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 2 October 2001
So few heroes shine in diverse areas. Cochrane was a military, political and above all human hero. This book should be read in every history class at school and university.
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on 21 August 2013
A better sailor than Nelson, but without the acclaim, this biography provides a graphic account of the life of Admiral Cochrane and his many historic achievements. Rejected, vilified and denigrated by many of his jealous contemporaries, in time his renown eventually became recognised. Some of his seafaring exploits were breathtaking in their audacity, earning the utmost respect from his sailors.

This is an amazing history of a fearless warrior, who had to fight not only the enemy , but high officials and dignitaries on his own side who deprived him of the honour and glory he deserved. Whereas he was a hero to the people of Peru and Brazil whose navies he commanded to relieve them from Spanish oppression, his exploits failed to gain him proper recognition in his own country until late in life.

A cracking read, full of interest and providing a window into the life and times of Admiral Cochrane and detail of naval warfare in the days of sail.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2001
from the time of pick up the book is irresistible. I was compelled to finish it reading far into the night. the enormity of cochranes triumphs is frustrated by his setbacks and yet you know his brilliance will out and he will be revered. this should be compulsory school reading- children would enjoy history. cannot wait to read another of the donald thomas books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 June 2014
I am a Cochrane fan and have read several books about his life. I find this the best version, although the others are all good. A real-life Hornblower / Master and Commander who has never had the recognition he truly deserves.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2003
When I read this book, I found myself comparing it to all the stories about Jack Aubrey, Hornblower and their ilke and realising they had all been written by authors who knew Thomas Cochrane's adventures. When Bernard Cornwell wrote Sharpe's Devil he brilliantly inserted Sharpe into Cochrane's adventures in Chile. But Thomas Cochrane does not need Sharpe to fill out his deeds. This was an excellent read and I finished it in one session.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 4 June 2000
This book was first released in 1978 but has now been re-released in hardback by Cassell under the title 'Cochrane, Britannia's Sea Wolf'. After reading this book I am amazed that it has taken nearly twenty years to be re-released. What a great story Mr. Thomas tells of Thomas, Lord Cochrane, later the 10th Earl of Dundonald. From his birth through to his death covering all his exploits in numerous sea battles and actions, so many in fact that you find it hard to believe that he survived. The book covers Cochrane's battles during the Napoleonic Wars during which, on many occasions, he sent his ship in action against overwhelming odds. It was during this period that he was recognized, as one of Britain's most daring and successful captains. It was also during this period that he made many enemies, although he pressed hard in every action and took many risks, he always considered the well being of the men under his command. This later led to his single-handed campaign against corruption in the Admiralty.
Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 Cochrane commenced an extraordinary career as a mercenary admiral. He subsequently commanded the navies of Chile and Brazil and launched campaigns against their protagonists, Spain and Portugal. After finishing his 'little wars' in South America he took command of elements of the Greek navy in their war against the Turks. In all these campaigns Cochrane again showed that he was one of the best naval commanders of his time.
The narrative flowed along smoothly and although I have no great knowledge of maritime history I had no problems in following this story. In over 350 pages of text along with a number of black & white plates and a few maps Mr. Thomas tells a wonderful and exciting story. This is the type of book, which I am sure any person who has a love for history or who enjoys the novels of C. S. Forester and Patrick O'Brien will just love. A must for any serious student of naval tactics or Napoleonic warfare.
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