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Cochrane the Dauntless: The Life and Adventures of Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 1775-1860 Paperback – 7 Jul 2008
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'The real Master and Commander' Sunday Telegraph 'Cordingly is a brilliant historian' Daily Telegraph 'Intriguing and satisfying ... Cochrane packed enough drama and history to shame both Horatio Nelson and Sir Francis Drake ... O'Brian fans will find great satisfaction in smoking out similarities and differences between Cochrane and Aubrey' Washington Post 'By rights, Thomas Cochrane should be as well known today as Francis Drake ... Cochrane's adventures in Chile, Peru and Brazil are among the most amazing in naval history' Sunday Times
About the Author
David Cordingly was Keeper of Pictures and Head of Exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum for twelve years, where he organised such exhibitions as 'Captain James Cook, Navigator', 'The Mutiny on the Bounty' and 'Pirates: Fact and Fiction'. His other books include Life among the Pirates, Heroines and Harlots and the highly praised Billy Ruffian.
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Top customer reviews
It's a history book naturally, but written in a far more accessible style than most I can remember. The author is not blind to the possibility that our hero might not be perfect and that a cloud still hangs over the Stock Exchange Affair. I was struck, however, by Cochrane's great social conscience and that was never in doubt.
I'd like to have heard more about Cochrane's family and the Scottish connection but you can't have it all. There's plenty of maritime stuff though! What an extraordinary time it was. Ships, crews, captains, flags - all seemed interchangeable in a crazy war game at sea. You went out and grabbed what you could. Sometimes you got a pat on the head for it and sometimes you were court-marshalled.
It was a time of incredible change. Cochrane starts out boarding enemy ships like Drake and ends up going to Crystal Palace and getting involved with new steam technology and Stevenson's Rocket. Wellington shook his hand eventually and Victoria was his number one fan. It makes you realise that it's not all that long ago that it all happened.
I'll continue to enjoy the Aubrey books but now I know who the real hero was.
Had he been around today, he would have been a liability, then probably arrested on International charges, but there is a glimmer of hope that he would have made such a formidable commander now and had such a drastic effect on society. Many people could learn from this book.
Cochrane was a mass of contradictions; he was not only a naval hero but a radical politician. Unfortunately, his most notable political characteristic was to shoot his mouth off, usually producing the opposite effect to that intended. He appears to have suffered from a persecution complex, and his intemperate performances in the House of Commons only meant that his disgrace in 1814 brought pleasure to his many detractors. Much of this animosity can be traced to his pursuit of Admiral Lord Gambier in the House following the attack on Basque Roads in 1809 which only succeeded in making more and powerful enemies, and as a result he found himself closer to a state of paranoia, one that afflicted him for the rest of his life.
The heart of Mr Cordingly's book is the action at Basque Roads and its repercussions; thereafter things quieten as the story turns to his romantic attachment and marriage, and his downfall. Despite his success as a frigate captain Cochrane would not desist from political activity. (Had he been as skillful a politician as he was a commander, it might not have mattered.) Following his disgrace he went to Chile to command the new country's navy in her struggle for independence from Spain, and also served in Peru, Brazil and Greece. But these episodes don't receive the same degree of attention as his Royal Navy exploits. This is a pity, because they hints at what might have been had Cochrane been more diligent in his naval career.
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Most recent customer reviews
Well written and entertaining
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