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Cochrane: The Life and Exploits of a Fighting Captain
If you're a fan of Patrick O'Brian's wonderful Master & Commander novels, here's your chance to meet the historical character upon whom Lucky Jack Aubrey was based.
As Patrick O'Brian was the first to admit, Jack Aubrey's career during the Napoleonic Wars runs a close parallel to that of Lord Thomas Cochrane's. But the O'Brian novels are - ironically - more believable because you know they're fiction. The daring exploits of Cochrane are even more incredible because they are historic fact.
Aside from their adventures at sea, Aubrey’s and Cochrane’s lives ran along similar paths. Both men were poor at handling their finances. Both loved their wives but were capable of the occasional indiscretion. Both men were members of Parliament who were far too outspoken and politically inept. Both were drummed out of the British Navy in disgrace. Both were redeemed in their lifetimes.
Richard Mathews does an able job with the narration, giving Lord Cochrane a lilting Scottish brogue.
Lovers of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels should hurry and download this history. There’s not a moment to lose.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
Second only to Horatio Nelson, Lord Thomas Cochrane (1775-1860) is considered the most successful Captain in the British Naval history. Cochrane was the tenth Earl of Dundonald. He was from a noble Scottish family.
Harvey covers the three aspects of Cochrane’s career: fighting Captain in the British Navy, radical politician, he was a Member of Parliament and expatriate military genius who after suffering disgrace in England, helped South American countries and Greece battle for independence.
Cochrane’s exploits were the inspiration of C. S. Forrester, Patrick O’Brian and Frederic Marryal. As you read this book you can discover the various exploits these authors used in their books.
The author shows how Cochrane used deception, tactical strategy and expert seamanship to win battles against supposedly unbeatable opponents. His strength was such that Napoleon dubbed him “Le loupdes mers” (the Sea Wolf)
Harvey captures the excitement of his daring do with gripping prose. The section about his career in Parliament and exploits in South America I found interesting which surprised me as other reviews complained about this section. In keeping the biography balanced Harvey did cover Cochrane’s feud with the Admiralty and the alleged involvement in a stock exchange scandal. Later in his career he was made an Admiral in the British Navy.
Cochrane inspired a 1967 collection of poems by Pablo Neruda “Lord Cochrane de Chile” which was set to music by Chilean composer Gustavo Becerra-Schmidt. I most enjoyed the section about the Napoleonic wars. The book was narrated by Richard Matthews. If you are interested in the Napoleonic Naval Wars or British Naval history this is a book for you.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful