Cover image for A pirate of exquisite mind : explorer, naturalist, and buccaneer : the life of William Dampier
Title:
A pirate of exquisite mind : explorer, naturalist, and buccaneer : the life of William Dampier
Author:
Preston, Diana, 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Walker & Company, [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
ix, 372 pages ; illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Summary:
"At a time when surviving a voyage across the Pacific was cause for celebration, William Dampier journeyed three times around the world, sailing more than 200,000 miles in his lifetime and witnessing people, places, and phenomena no European had seen. As a young man he spent several years in the swashbuckling company of buccaneers in the Caribbean and Pacific, learning to survive in their bloodthirsty, uncertain world, before setting off on his first journey around the globe - a many-year odyssey, much of it spent in the theretofore mysterious Pacific and Southeast Asia. Later, his best-selling books about his experiences were a sensation; the vividness of his prose and accuracy of his descriptions put armchair readers in the midst of unknown worlds and introduced many words into the English language, including barbecue, chopsticks, and kumquat. Over time, Dampier's observations and insights influenced generations of scientists, explorers, and writers." "Dampier's powers of observation were astonishing. 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. His insights on land were equally astute: For example, 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 eighty years before Cook, and he later led the first formal expedition of science and discovery back to Australia. So influential was Dampier that today he has more than one thousand entries in the Oxford English Dictionary."--BOOK JACKET.
Language:
English
Contents:
Adventurer -- "A Self-Conceited Young Man" -- "A Great Prospect of Getting Money Here" -- "To Seek a Subsistence" -- "A Door to the South Seas" -- Buccaneer -- "That Sacred Hunger of Gold" -- "Two Fat Monkeys" -- Bachelor's Delight -- Enchanted Islands -- "We Ran for It" -- Traveler -- "You Would Have Poisoned Them" -- "As White as Milk and as Soft as Cream" -- "This Mad Crew" -- "New-Gotten Liberty" -- "Our Little Ark" -- Gut Rot and Gunpowder -- Painted Prince -- Celebrity -- Rover's Return -- "Good Copy" -- "Dampier's Voyage Takes so Wonderfully" -- Kiss My Arse -- Shark's Bay -- "A Flame of Fire" -- "Not a Fit Person" -- Ancient Mariner -- "Brandy Enough" -- Manila Galleon at Last.
ISBN:
9780802714251
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Item Holds
Searching...
G246.D17 P74 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Searching...
Searching...
G246.D17 P74 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
G246.D17 P74 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
G246.D17 P74 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

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.


Author Notes

Diana Preston is the author of Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy, The Boxer Rebellion, A First Rate Tragedy, and The Road to Culloden Moor. She and her husband Michael Preston, live in London, England


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

William Dampier's name crops ups constantly in tales of adventure, exploration, and piracy (e.g., Diana Souhami's Selkirk's Island,0 2001). His ubiquity creates high expectations for Preston and her husband coauthor's full-scale biography. Dampier was well esteemed in the days of Charles Darwin, who consulted Dampier's New Voyage Round the World0 (1697) while at sea. Darwin was probably less interested in yarns of depredation upon the Spanish Main, however, than in Dampier's precise and sensitive observations of nature, peoples, and geography. We contemporary readers, however, demand dollops of buccaneering, boarding, and the occasional mutiny, narrative elements that Dampier's three circumnavigations of the globe permit the Prestons to deploy. Integrating them with the England-bound events of Dampier's life--which included a marriage, publication and fame, organization of voyages piratical and scientific, and a court-martial--the Prestons make the "self-conceited" Dampier, as an acquaintance described him, every bit as complex and interesting on paper as he was in life. Supported by dozens of contemporary maps and illustrations, the authors credibly contend that Dampier was a pioneer of the travelogue--not bad considering his day job. A superbly rendered popular history in a superpopular genre. --Gilbert Taylor Copyright 2004 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Dampier's adventures and observations ignited the imagination of a generation, but today his name is largely unknown. This exhaustive biography by Diana Preston (Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy; The Boxer Rebellion; etc.) and husband Michael won't make Dampier famous again, but it will give readers a clear understanding of one of the most well-traveled men in history. In the late 1600s, Dampier, an Englishman, circumnavigated the globe three separate times. The authors draw heavily on the books and articles Dampier published about his adventures, and they include the most mundane of details ("The buccaneers sailed on, pausing to bury at sea one of their number, who apparently expired of high fever exacerbated by hiccups brought on by a drinking bout at La Serena"). During his time as a buccaneer, Dampier launched dozens of raids on gold-laden Spanish ships, marched through Panama's jungles and mutinied many times. What distinguished him from an ordinary pirate, as the title indicates, was his sharp eye for observation. He was the first self-made naturalist to visit the Gal pagos; his sketches of the region's turtles set the stage for Darwin's future visit. He also drew detailed maps of nearly every place he visited, charts that defined Western Europe's knowledge of the Americas and the South Seas. His theories about how wind patterns affect ocean currents are still used today. Indeed, Dampier's scientific and historical legacy holds up better than his swashbuckling escapades, which, though exciting, hold slightly less novelty. 65 b&w illus., maps. Agent, Michael Carlisle. (Apr.) Forecast: This alternate selection of the Book-of-the-Month, History and Quality Paperback Book Clubs should appeal to historians and pirate buffs, as well as fans of Patrick O'Brian novels and those enthralled by Pirates of the Caribbean. Like Humboldt's Cosmos (Forecasts, Feb. 9), it illuminates a largely forgotten adventurer. Booksellers might position the books together. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Choice Review

Dampier's life reads like an adventure novel: he was a buccaneer who many times risked ending his life in sea battles among savage Caribbean natives or being hung as a common pirate. Yet even then his observant eye and lively curiosity caused him to record every new plant, bird, and animal he saw. In a lifetime (1651-1715) of adventure, Dampier sailed three times around the world, explored five continents, and saw what no other European ever witnessed. These adventures he recorded in best-selling books that made him a literary sensation--the "father of travel writers." If he had done nothing more than all this, Dampier would deserve remembrance, but his meticulously drawn maps and studies of winds and ocean currents made his work invaluable to others such as Charles Darwin, explorer James Cook, and British Admiral Lord Nelson. This makes it all the more remarkable that, until now, Dampier has been forgotten. The Prestons have thoroughly researched the life of this fascinating man and put it into an entertaining format to hold reader interest. Dampier's portrait in London's National Portrait Gallery is labeled simply "William Dampier: Pirate and Hydrographer"; it could have read "father of naturalism," as this highly readable, informative book makes clear. ^BSumming Up: Strongly recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through faculty. C. G. Wood formerly, Eastern Maine Community College


Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Prologuep. 1
Part I. The Adventurer
I "A Self-Conceited Young Man"p. 21
II "A Great Prospect of Getting Money Here"p. 32
III "To Seek a Subsistence"p. 44
IV "A Door to the South Seas"p. 52
Part II. The Buccaneer
V "That Sacred Hunger of Gold"p. 65
VI "Two Fat Monkeys"p. 81
VII The Bachelor's Delightp. 96
VIII The Enchanted Islandsp. 108
IX "We Ran for It"p. 121
Part III. The Traveler
X "You Would Have Poisoned Them"p. 137
XI "As White as Milk and as Soft as Cream"p. 147
XII "This Mad Crew"p. 159
XIII "New-Gotten Liberty"p. 172
XIV "Our Little Ark"p. 182
XV Gut Rot and Gunpowderp. 190
XVI The Painted Princep. 203
Part IV. The Celebrity
XVII The Rover's Returnp. 215
XVIII "Good Copy"p. 229
XIX "Dampier's Voyage Takes so Wonderfully"p. 242
XX Kiss My Arsep. 250
XXI Shark's Bayp. 265
XXII "A Flame of Fire"p. 275
XXIII "Not a Fit Person"p. 284
Part V. The Ancient Mariner
XIV "Brandy Enough"p. 301
XV The Manila Galleon at Lastp. 309
Epiloguep. 325
Notes and Sourcesp. 337
Bibliographyp. 349
Art Creditsp. 355
Indexp. 357