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Cochrane the Dauntless: The Life & Adventures of Admiral Thomas Cochrane 1775-1860
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Cochrane the Dauntless: The Life & Adventures of Admiral Thomas Cochrane 1775-1860

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  546 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Patrick O' Brian, C.S. Forester and Captain Marryat all based their literary heroes on Thomas Cochrane, but Cochrane's exploits were far more daring and exciting than those of his fictional counterparts. He was a man of action, whose bold and impulsive nature meant he was often his own worst enemy. Writing with gripping narrative skill and drawing on his own travels and or ...more
Paperback, 420 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Bloomsbury UK (first published July 1st 2004)
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Dana Stabenow
Oct 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chances are you've already heard of Horatio Hornblower, Jack Aubrey, even Frank Mildmay. But how about Thomas Cochrane, the real life British naval officer upon whose life and career all of these fictional characters are at least in part based?

That's what I thought. Don't worry, David Cordingly's Cochrane: The Real Master and Commander has got you covered.

The best biographies illuminate not only their title character but the time and place in which that character lives, and this book does that i
David Campton
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
A biography of a naval figure overshadowed by better known contemporaries such as Nelson and Collingwood, at least here in the UK, but who was reputedly one of the inspirations for Hornblower and Aubrey. It reads as well as a Hornblower story and reveals a complex character who was both bold in battle and unusually careful for the lives of those under his command, despite a seemingly haughty demeanour. He was also somewhat paranoid (though perhaps with some cause) and had an obsession with money ...more
Le Loup des Mers deserves a better bio

I picked this book up on a whim, having recently become interested in the Napoleonic Wars but finding little else on the subject that I could check out from my county’s e-library. Furthermore, I have the first of Patrick O’Brian Aubrey–Maturin books on hold, so it seemed the perfect time to read about the man whom O’Brian’s stalwart fictional hero is modelled on, or as the subtitle tantalizes, “The Real Master and Commander.”

Alas, Cordingly is no O’Brian a
Gilly McGillicuddy
As per usual, just copypasta from what I wrote in my LJ when I was reading it. Why yes, I am a Patrick O'Brian fan, why do you ask?


I'm trying to figure out just how much Jack and Cochrane's pre-commander careers overlapped. Both were lieutenants on the Resolution! The Reso, the good old Reso. Only for Jack it was at least his second time aboard her. And I love the little anecdote about the first lieutenant sawing his sea chest in half because it was too big to fit. AHAHA. Pwned.


Monthly Book Group
Cochrane was a Scot who had led a quite remarkable life. He had fought highly dramatic battles in Napoleonic times, becoming much celebrated, but had also been accused of conspiracy and fraud. He had recovered to have a whole new and highly celebrated naval career in South America. His life was so exciting that he was the inspiration for much naval fiction, including the work of Captain Marryat who served under him, C.S.Forester’s Horatio Hornblower, and more recently Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubr ...more
Feb 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read this book to learn more about the remarkable man whose life provided the raw material for the tales of Jack Aubrey and Horatio Hornblower. 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 -
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting biography of a British Sea Captain during the Napoleonic era. Cochrane was the eldest son of a Scottish Earl who engaged in many dramatic single ship actions and raids and was much admired. However, he appeared to have a persecution complex and always blamed impediments to his career on plotting by others. He was not helped by his Radical views during a repressive time in the UK due to the threat from Napoleon. He was ultimately imprisoned for stock fraud, and after release depart ...more
Feb 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid, overall enjoyable biography of an astounding man.

Having read Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series, it's strange to see that all the things and events that made 'Lucky' Jack Aubrey a great fictional character, are simply biographical for Thomas Cochrane.

I give it 4/5 stars because I think the author spoils (as much as a historical record can be) the naturally building drama of many of the events by telling you how it turns out before describing the action. I also felt his retelling of
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoyed Master and Commander, or even just enjoy the stories of the British at sea during the peak of their empire, this is a great book for you. Few people know about Thomas Cochrane, whose life was the basis for the movie Master and Commander. Instead of being Crowe-esque, however, Cochrane was a giant ginger who worked his way as a midshipman - all while learning to scrub decks unlike most officers - to becoming one of the most revered captains of his day and to the downfall that follo ...more
An interesting and well-written exploration of a relatively unknown figure, who nevertheless took part in or witnessed some major events of the 19th century. Cordingly, well-known for writing about pirates, reveals a polarising naval officer whose pride and unpopular political beliefs led him from command of his own ship and a position in Westminster to financial ruin and self-imposed exile in South America. The author carefully avoids taking sides in some of the more controversial elements of C ...more
Uber Hund
Certainly little doubt can remain that O'Brien drank from Cochrane's biography in deep quaffs to weave his tales of Aubrey and Maturin. Unfortunately, Cordingly's premise is established by dragging the reader through a narrative so academic, so lacking in romance, so devoid of ambiance, one is reminded why so many of us were ruined on the subject of history from the time of grade school.
Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrific biography of the little known navel hero who was the model for Patrick O'Brian to base Captain Jack Aubrey upon.

While Cordingly does take pains not to take Cochrane's autobiography at face value and does include the darker aspects of Cochrane's character, his clear bias in favour of Cochrane diminishes the informativeness of the book. While Cordingly subtly approves of Cochrane fighting for the common sailor and arguing against the huge sums of money some members of the Admiralty made, he glosses over the hypocrisy of Cochrane's own zeal for financial gain (especially in South America). He also glosses ov ...more
Tom Schulte
I so like the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World that I wanted to read this book for historical background. Indeed, some of my favorite scenes such as locking with the a larger vessel in a do-or-die maneuver, a sudden timber-snapping turn to face a larger vessel, and setting adrift a phantom lure are all from Cochrane's own life, if at time from his imagined life. Hearing of this Scottish captain's adventures in this Scottish accent of narrator John Lee makes it more the real ...more
Jason , etc.
Jan 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's always fascinating to read biographies of individuals whose real-life exploits are so clearly the inspiration for fictional masterpieces. Lord Cochrane's life in both the British navy and his 'freelance' efforts in South America make for great reading (or listening in this case). What gives the book additional depth is the time spent detailing Cochrane's battle with personal and professional demons. It's a compelling story largely due to how, having fallen from grace through (debatably) no ...more
Casey Mahon
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished listening to the audiobook Cochrane by David Cordingly, read by John Lee. Good book, it was more like a nautical adventure novel than a biography; helped by Admiral Cochrane's adventurous life and the narrator's use of accents to highlight the personal quotations. There are many life lessons to be learned from Cochrane's story, some good, others not so much. The biggest is the importance of perseverance. Whether it was a short sea battle or a decades long legal fight, he never gave ...more
Bas Kreuger
Nice book on the life of Lord Cochrane, a naval hero in the wars against Napoleon and the South-American wars of liberation in the 1820's.
Well researched and written, it is a bit dry here and there, the extraordinary exploits of Cochrane not withstanding.
Not only gives it an very good example of a most humane commander, it also paints a picture of the social, economic and political life of the nobility in the late 18th and early 19th century. Cochrane is an example how the mighty can fall (and r
Joseph Sellors
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second David Cordingly book I have read after his book about the Bellerophon and he clearly has a talent for writing about naval history. The book is well researched and concise and succeeds in painting a portrait of someone who was a very complicated personality. Cochrane, despite his many character flaws, deserves far more recognition as a naval commander than he gets. His successes were largely achieved against massive odds and included risks few other naval commanders would have ...more
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book. It takes one back to the final days of the glorious age of sail. It tells the story of a man who accomplished much in his life. A man that while often larger than life, had an all to recognizable human side. It conveyed to me what can be achieved by taking a few risks in life. While often times these proved to be Cochrane's downfall, they no doubt convey the nature of why he is remembered so many years later. I recommend this book.
James F.
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are a fanatic for biographies based on in-depth and comprehensive research, this book will fulfill your greatest expectations. If you are strictly a fiction-lover, this book might be too dry and boring for you.

I was entertained as much by the extensive notes which just precede the index of this history as I was by the narrative created by the author, David Cordingly. In addition, I found that the plates added a visual touch that was instructive.

Michael Thompson
I read this after finishing all of the, "Master & Commander" series. Who knew the main character in the fictional series did as much crazy stuff in a real-life person? He led one very interesting life. Cochrane was one very ballsy/lucky S.O.B. when it came to military matters and a naive babe in the woods when it came to money. The man also had an appetite for beautiful women, no matter how powerful their husbands were. You gotta love this guy.
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Very interesting. Well documented. A must for all those
interested in British Naval history.
Lindsay Eaton
Jul 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book by a great author. This is the story of Lord Thomas Cochrane, later the 10th Earl of Dundonald, whose daring exploits as a naval captain during the Napoleonic Wars were the inspiration for much of the naval fiction of nineteenth and twentieth-century novelists, particularly C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower and Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey. Particularly well researched and written, this was a 'can't put down' book for me. Highly recommended
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O'Brian fans will feel the same thrills and sorrows reading this detailed biography as they do following the adventures of Aubrey and Maturin. The understanding of the real-life inspiration for Jack Aubrey deepens the love for the fictional characters and inspired this fan to go back and start with the volume one.
Harry Lane
A well written and researched biography of a little known British captain and admiral, who was also something of an inventor and political figure. Some of his seagoing exploits are quite breathtaking, and justify the subtitle to an extent. The real person, however, is a much more complex individual with some serious character flaws that adversely affected his career.
Oct 07, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio, history, military
“Thomas Cochrane was born 14 December 1775. He was in good company that year. Jane Austen was born two days later at her father's rectory in Hampshire; with two brothers in the navy she would take a keen interest in naval affairs, and the life of Captain Francis Austen would cross the path of the future Captain Lord Cochrane on more than one occasion.” p12.
Jan (the Gryphon)
Jun 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jan (the Gryphon) by: Donna Jo
Shelves: biography
Thomas Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald, was not the sort of man to suffer fools gladly. Therefore, he did not do as well politically as he did in command of a ship. Because of politics, he could not do well with his inventions. Yet he was a heroic figure, even in his own lifetime.

Russell Crowe did the material credit.
Oct 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the age of sail
Shelves: history
Lately I've been interested in reading biographies of the captains in the Royal Navy upon whom the likes of Hornblower, Bolitho, Aubrey, and Kydd were patterned after. This is the most recent. Cochrane was a very complex character. A hero among frigate captains in the Napoleonic era, he had a number of failings as a human being.
Patrick McFarland
The fascinating story of the man behind the legend of Jack Aubrey. Cochrane was a brash, no nonsense Captain, loved by his crew but hated by his superiors. An unparalleled genius second only to Nelson in military prowess. A great story of a great man.
Nestor Jimenez
Great book! Cochrane is such a character and Mr Cordingly show us all the details of a life plenty of emotions on a period of history when many things were happening around the world and a man among them. Awesome!
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David Cordingly is an English naval historian who is considered one of the leading authorities on pirates. He held the position of Keeper of Pictures and Head of Exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England for twelve years.

David Cordingly organised several exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum, including Captain James Cook, Navigator and The Mutiny on the Bounty. Perhap
More about David Cordingly...