Author : Kenneth Poolman
Publisher : Berkely New York 2000
Published Year : 2000
Format : Paperback, 180 pages
Dimensions : 6.12 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 0.57 (d)
ISBN : 0425174387
ISBN13 : 9780425174388
No mythic journey, this tale of adventure on the high seas is completely true, told by a writer who spent World War II in warships of the Royal Navy. The story is based on the real-life adventures of George Shelvocke, commander of the 22-gun privateer Speedwell that set sail in 1718 to steal treasure from Spanish ships in the South Seas. Filled with pirates, mutinies, sea battles, violent storms, and shipwrecks on exotic islands, the fast-moving narrative offers authentic details of the period and honest characterizations of real individuals. Not since Shelvocke's own book was published in 1726 has the full story been told, although Samuel Coleridge based his Rime of the Ancient Mariner on events reported by Speedwell's captain. This is the only modern attempt to recount the epic voyage. We learn how Shelvocke's seamanship skills allowed him to outfight larger Spanish warships and capture prizes but were no match for the stormy seas that claimed his frigate. We get an uncomfortably close look at the lives of the ship-wrecked survivors on a Pacific Island - the same island from which the real "Robinson Crusoe" was rescued - and we watch in fascination as the crew mutinies and forms the first sailors' soviet in history. Though not without his shortcomings, Shelvocke is shown to be a natural leader who persuades the men to build a small vessel with timber from the wreck and trees hacked from the forest. Eventually the sailors reinstate their captian and manage to take over a Spanish ship, which they sail to Macao. Shelvocke's role in getting the sick and starving men to safety is just one of the dramatic stories included in this classic sea odyssey. A richly detailed and colorful glossary ensures that readers will enjoy this tale regardless of their background.