Robinson Crusoe was one of the first Best Sellers and has captured the imagination for generations. This new book takes a 300th Anniversary of publication look at the book, the author, the wider subject. – Very Highly Recommended
NAME: Crusoe Castaways and Shipwrecks in the Perilous Age of Sail FILE: R2866 AUTHOR: Mike Rendell PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword BINDING: hard back PAGES: 151 PRICE: £19.99 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: Pirates, mutineers, shipwrecks, storm, sail power, ship rig, drowning, storms, survivors, deserted islands, self-sufficiency, rescue, castaways, banishment
IMAGE: B2866.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/y479jfyz LINKS: DESCRIPTION: Robinson Crusoe was one of the first Best Sellers and has captured the imagination for generations. This new book takes a 300th Anniversary of publication look at the book, the author, the wider subject. – Very Highly Recommended Daniel Foe was a flawed character who wrote 'Robinson Crusoe'. The book became a best seller and has remained popular through the three hundred years since it was published, a remarkable achievement for any author. His life and background are examined by Mike Rendell and present a pretty fair picture of a character who generally failed at most of the things he undertook. The exceptions being his success in squandering money from his wife's family and his crowning success with 'Robinson Crusoe'. The author has looked at the claims and legends about the origins of the character Robinson Crusoe and at a selection of wrecks, disasters, survival and stranding. This makes into a fascinating book that also captures the high risks of sailing in the 17th , 18th and early 19th Centuries. With the rapid expansion of the British Empire, the Royal Navy was also expanding and stamping its supremacy on naval power. The French and Spanish still had substantial fleets of warships and their own colonies, as did the Dutch. However, the sea was a lawless place with many pirates and privateers, the difference between them being no more than Letters of Compensation and Retribution, or Letters of Mark, issued by a naval power to armed vessels in time of war when the private warships were authorized to attack and seize ships and cargoes of the enemy. Command at sea was enforced ruthlessly and often brutally. With naval vessels, when many in the crew were pressed into service against their will, the necessary, but cruel, enforcement of authority led to mutiny, of which the story of HMS Bounty is perhaps the best known. The mutineers did kill their officers on occasion but frequently either put them ashore on a remote and deserted island, or put them in an open boat. Life was little better on many merchant ships and a similar fate awaited the officers. When naval crews mutinied they were most likely to find some where to come ashore, sinking their ship to avoid being found and hanged. When merchant ship crews mutinied, they often became pirates, making new use of their vessel. Although mutiny by crews was relatively rare, life at sea was enormously dangerous, particularly for merchant ships, their crews and any passengers. A fundamental risk was that there was very little control over the construction and use of ships, or the qualifications of their officers and crews. Owners were always looking for ways of reducing costs and the obvious way of cutting cost was in delaying refits and the purchase of new ropes and sails. That increased the already high risk of sailing ships in some terrible storm conditions. Unlike modern shipping, the captains had no global weather forecasts or accurate all-weather navigation equipment. The charts of the day also left much to be desired. As a result, a ship could end up a considerable distance off the planned course, especially when the ship had run for days before a storm with no opportunity to take 'sun shots' to establish a position. Equally, a captain could sail his ship directly towards a violent storm, only realizing the danger when he was too close to take avoiding action and sail around the worst of the conditions. Given all of the risks of the age, sinkings of ships were common and many vanished without any trace. That introduced another danger. Owners who had run out of ways of cutting cost decided to deliberately lose a ship after heavily insuring it and its cargo. 'Coffin Ships' were a regular fear for crews because most would perish in the sinking and only a small number involved in the sabotage who be able to plan an escape. This progressively led to the adoption in the 19th Century of 'Standards', such as the Plimsoll Line, to govern the construction of ships their loading and operation. Insurance companies became increasingly effective in identifying fraudulent sinkings of vessels. This progress has largely eliminated the events covered in this book, but not entirely. Piracy is still a reality in the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean, South America and the South Seas. Ships are still deliberately sunk and can be victims of freak weather, structural and mechanical failure, and errors by captain and crew.