Selkirk's IslandBook - 2001
Selkirk was a pirate and a buccaneer who sailed on the South Seas on looting expeditions for gold and treasure. In 1703 he joined an expedition whose object was to plunder French and Spanish ships. Conditions on the ship were appalling; scurvy, dysentery and typhus flourished and most of the crew died or went mad. Eventually they reached the island of Juan Fernandez 400 miles off the coast of Chile where Selkirk opted to maroon himself. Suddenly solitude and silence were imposed and his only relationship was to the island and to himself. He learnt to kill goats with cudgels and use their skins for coats and shoes. He hollowed out a canoe and circumnavigated the island. He wished there were a woman on the island, but perhaps he used the goats he had tamed for his sexual satisfaction. Gradually he found that company was not essential and that he was the Governor of this island, afraid of nothing it contained. In 1709 Selkirk spotted two ships from his cliff-top lookout. They saw his fire and the next morning had landed on Juan Fernandez to be greeted by an unrecognisable savage-looking man incoherent with emotion. Selkirk endured a painful few weeks as he watched his dominion being plundered, then sailed back with them to civilisation where he 'bewailed his return to the world'. He died in 1720 back at sea, of yellow fever.
This is an outstanding book by an extremely fine writer based on journals of those who dumped and rescued Selkirk as well as on Souhami's own adventures to his island.