The Life and Exploits of A Fighting Captain

Book - 2000
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A seaman as heroic as Nelson, a master of gunnery and genius at deception, a tactician so formidably skillful Napoleon called him the sea wolf. Thomas Cochrane made of his life at sea a legend more extraordinary than any of the works of fiction it inspired -- like the famous sea tales of C. S. Forester and Patrick O'Brian's bestselling series of naval novels featuring the redoubtable Jack Aubrey.Barely twenty-five when he assumed command of the Speedy, Cochrane created mayhem in the Mediterranean as he took the tiny brig with its fourteen guns to naval glory and himself to national fame and a fortune in prize money. A maverick, Cochrane often stood at odds with the Admiralty and on occasion operated against its orders. As innovative as he was fearless, he flew under false colors to deceive the enemy, instituted in-shore guerrilla raiding, promoted the use of explosion ships, and experimented with poison gas, propeller-drive ships, and compressed-air engines. Outnumbered and outgunned, he nonetheless triumphed over Spanish and Portuguese naval forces in battles off the coasts of Chile, Peru, and Brazil, where he served as a mercenary in the cause of independence.Born into a penurious but noble Scottish family, Cochrane rose fabulously and fearlessly from midshipman to admiral, from penniless heir to a radical member of parliament to Tenth Earl of Dundonald. He married a penniless orphan and had a long-standing liaison with one of the most famous literary figures of his day. He survived the Stock Exchange scandal that sent him to prison and escaped to South America, where he helped shape the destiny of a continent. Rebellious, dashing, mad, heroic; Cochrane both embodies andepitomizes the spirit of the Romantic Age.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Carroll & Graf : 2000
ISBN: 9780786707690
Branch Call Number: 359.00941 C643h
Characteristics: 332p illus


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Jun 12, 2011

Why don't more people alive today know who Thomas Cochrane was or what he achieved? This volume goes to great lengths to answer the preceding, and provides excellent research and insight into an officer who sailed the same seas as Nelson but clearly had a vision of a world far, far different. Top notch.

Dec 07, 2010

As an inveterate reader and fan of Bernard Cornwell, an accomplished author of historical fiction, I follow with considerable delight the adventures of Richard Sharpe, sharpshooter in his English military's Rangers.
In his novel "Sharpe's Revenge", our hero finds himself in South America, doing battle on behalf of the Chilean insurgents against the crumbling Spanish Empire.
In "Revenge" there is a brief passage dealing with one heroic seaman whom the Spanish call diablo, the devil. His real name is Cochrane --- an Englishman in the employ of Chile. Cochrane is much feared by his enemies because of his seeming invincibility and his ability to grasp victory after victory against impossible odds.
Cochrane's naval exploits were outstanding. He was one who outwitted his enemy repeatedly --- capturing enemy vessels by stealth, cunning and sometimes subtrefuge. He took risks where his contempoaries asought the safe haven. He espoused new technolgy such the steam-powered vessel while his peers dismissed the concept as foolish. He was respected and admired by his crews and sailors during a period when men became captains and admirals simply be buying their commissions, Cochrane actually learned and earned his commissions.
He was involved in major confrontations with the French and Spanish in the Mediterranean; with the French at Aix roads in western France; he amost single handedly freed Chile and Peru from Spain; he drove the Portugues from Brazil and then finally fought for Greedk independence from Turkey. Those are a lot of accomplishments to fit into a single lifetime.
Cochrane came to posess such a reputation for victory and triumph among his adversaries that they very often fled at his approach. And all of this with minimal loss of life to his own men.
His biography reads like a script for Mission Impossible.
Harvey's book is history --- not fiction. The book is generally not difficult to read. Quotes from other sources are artfully entertwined in Harvey's narrative.
This book is to be recommended especially those interested in the Naval History of Great Britain at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
This book is recommended reading to those with an interest in heroism and naval warfare at the end of the age of sail.
This book is recommended reading to those who like their heroes much larger than life --- with audacity and dash.
This book is recommended reading.

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