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Cochrane: The Real Master and Commander

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Cochrane: The Real Master and Commander <br />Format: Paperback <br />Authors: David Cordingly <br />ISBN10: 1596915870 <br />Published: 2008-09-16

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Cochrane: The Real Master and Commander
Format: Paperback
Authors: David Cordingly
ISBN10: 1596915870
Published: 2008-09-16 Nicknamed le loup des mers ("the sea wolf") by Napoleon, Thomas Cochrane was one of the most daring and successful naval heroes of all time. Patrick O'Brian, C. S. Forester, and Captain Marryat all based their literary heroes on the man about whom Lord Byron once famously rhapsodized, "There is no man I envy so much as Lord Cochrane." But, as David Cordingly reveals, Cochrane far exceeded the daring and romantic exploits of his fictional counterparts.


Bloomsbury USA
Book Format
Original Languages
Number of Pages
David Cordingly
Publication Date
September, 2008
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
9.22 x 6.58 x 1.23 Inches

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Many readers will come...

Many readers will come to David Cordingly's The Real Master and Commander from a desire as fans of Patrick O'Brian and C.S. Forester to learn more about the remarkable man whose life provided the raw material for the tales of Jack Aubrey and Horatio Hornblower. Make no mistake, however, Cordingly's excellent historical biography deserves to be read on its own merits. Lord Thomas Cochrane executed such stunningly audacious feats - successfully attacking much larger ships with his small sloop Speedy, leading an attack of fireships on the French fleet at Basque Roads, and helping Chile and Brazil establish their independence - that one might cry `what pitiful stuff' if one read it in a work of historical fiction. But it really happened. Cochrane was a flawed man who could not restrain himself from reckless attacks on powerful forces in the navy and the government generally. When he found himself entangled in an infamous stock exchange fraud (the leaders spread false rumors that Napoleon had died and then sold their shares when the market predictably spiked), he discovered that powerful men were only too happy to see him convicted and drummed out of the navy. Cordingly judiciously sifts the evidence of Cochrane's guilt or innocence from our vantage point nearly 200 years later. In addition to his naval feats Cochrane also fought for reform causes as a member of parliament. His intemperate tactics and language did him little good. Of course, he was quite right in insisting that either the electoral system would be reformed from within or reformed from without with a vengeance from without. After several years in the `wilderness', Cochrane sailed to South America and successfully aided the rebellion against Spain and Portugal. He eventually wore out his welcome there as well, in part due to fights over prize money. From there he went to the Greek Fiasco, as Cordingly aptly names it. He spent his remaining years fighting with some success to restore honor to his name. A sad dwindling away for this remarkable man. A must read for fans of Age of Sail historical fiction and an excellent histroical biography.

Well done. Quick read...

Well done. Quick read about a great naval captain who like all of us had some flaws. Thorough and balance analysis of the controversies in this sailor's life. Some interesting books in the bibliography

Very interesting biogr...

Very interesting biography of Lord Cochrane, on whom Patrick O'Brian based some of the career and personality of Jack Aubrey, even if sometimes overly detailed (hour-by-hour reconstructions of perfectly uneventful convoy voyages). The most exciting part was a battle I never heard of called Basque Roads, where Cochrane entered a French harbor and almost destroyed their entire fleet. I'm very surprised O'Brian never worked it into one of the books, because it was such a perfectly Jack-like episode: a daring plan, valiant acts of seamanship, success limited by a conventional commander who wouldn't back him up, followed by a court martial where he managed to alienate almost everyone in power. As a side note: good God, are there no copy editors anymore who understand the use of commas? This is a major book from a major publisher, and I wanted to go through the whole thing with my red pen.

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