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A Pirate Of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer: The Life of William Dampier.

A PIRATE OF EXQUISITE MIND: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer: The Life of William Dampier DIANA AND MICHAEL PRESTON

William Dampier was the first man to circumnavigate the world three times during his lifetime, which spanned the years 1651 to 1715. Yet his reason for doing so wasn't exactly noble. He was a pirate. He and his crew sailed the seas looking to attack gold-laden ships. This is not to say that Dampier wasn't an avid and interested traveler. In fact, the data that he gathered on these far-reaching journeys would rank him as one of the greatest naturalists, travel writers, sailors, explorers, and, to some degree, scientists of his time. AS the authors report, Dampier did unofficial reconnaissance for Charles Darwin in the Galapagos and coined the term "subspecies" before Darwin used it. As Dampier traveled to five continents, he logged thousands of pages describing flora, fauna, and cultures that had never been witnessed before. To the English, he introduced curiosities ranging from avocados to zebras. Dampier proposed that wind causes currents, which he mapped. His charts of reefs, tidal races, and shoals of Pacific islands were so detailed that the British Navy used them as late as the 20th century. Even the English language benefited from this buccaneer: He added more than 1,000 words, including chopsticks, posse, and excursion to the Oxford English Dictionary. Dampier's travelogues generated popular interest in travel writing. In this book, Diana and Michael Preston celebrate Dampier's scientific contributions, which have been largely overshadowed by his sinister side. Walker, 2004, 372 p., b&w photos/illus., hardcover, $27.00.
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Title Annotation:Books
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Aug 28, 2004
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