Published Jan 2010
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 observation 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, The Life of William Dampier: Explorer, Naturalist & Buccaneer restores him to his rightful place in history – One of the pioneers whose insights formed the basis of our understanding of the natural world.
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 and Sea of Glory