A Pirate Of Exquisite Mind

The Life Of William Dampier

A Pirate Of Exquisite Mind

William Dampier, (1651-1715), was an English adventurer and pirate who preyed on ships on the Spanish Main. Poor and ill-educated and determined to make his fortune, he nonetheless had a passion for exploration and scientific research. Dampier was the first to map the winds and currents of the world's oceans; led the first recorded party of Englishmen to set foot on Australia - 80 years before Cook; wrote about Galapagos wildlife 150 years before Darwin, who drew on Dampier's notes in his own work; was the first travel writer: A NEW VOYAGE AROUND THE WORLD was instant bestseller when it was published in 1697 - said to have influenced the novels of Swift and Defoe. A man full of contradictions: he who achieved so much 'blew it' later in life, declining into scandal, failure and even farce. A unique man ahead of his time, he lived a large part of his life among pirates yet managed to preserve what Coleridge called his "exquisite refinement of mind". A classic example of the best narrative history.

Taj Mahal

Passion and Genius at the Heart of the Moghul Empire

Taj Mahal

While Galileo suffered under house arrest at the hands of Pope Urban VIII, the Thirty Years War ruined Europe, and the Pilgrims struggled to survive in the New World, work began on what would become one of the Seven Wonders of the World: the Taj Mahal. Built by the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, its flawless symmetry and gleaming presence have for centuries dazzled everyone who has seen it, and the story of its creation is a fascinating blend of cultural and architectural heritage. Yet, as Diana & Michael Preston vividly convey in the first narrative history of the Taj, it also reflects the magnificent history of the Moghul Empire itself, for it turned out to mark the high point of the Empire's glory at the same time as it became a tipping point in Moghul fortunes. The roots of the Moghul Empire lie with the legendary warriors Genghis Khan and Tamburlaine; at its height it contained 100 million people, from Afghanistan in the north and present-day Pakistan in the west, to Bengal in the east and southwards deep into central India.. With the storytelling skills that characterize their previous books, Diana & Michael Preston bring alive both the grand sweep of Moghul history and the details that make it memorable: the battles and dynastic rivalries that forged the Empire alongside an intimate chronicle of daily life within the imperial palace. A tale of overwhelming passion, the story of the Taj has the cadences of Greek tragedy and the ripe emotion of grand opera, and puts a memorable human face on the marble masterpiece.

The Pirate World

A History of the Most Notorious Sea Robbers

The Pirate World

Highly illustrated with colour images and specially commissioned maps throughout, this is a unique exploration of the pirate world. Often romanticised in print and on the silver screen, real-life pirates were a brutal menace that plagued the high seas. In this book, Angus Konstam separates myth from reality, tracing the history of piracy through the centuries, from the pirates who plagued the Ancient Egyptians to the Viking raids and on to the era of privateers. He discusses the so-called 'Golden Age of Piracy' and colourful characters such as Blackbeard and Captain Kidd, before examining the West's initial encounters with Eastern pirates off the Chinese coast and the phenomenon of the modern pirate.

Cleopatra and Antony

Cleopatra and Antony

In 44 bc, Julius Caesar was murdered on the Ides of March. His mistress, Cleopatra of Egypt, fled back to Alexandria with their little son. Mark Antony, Caesar's friend and henchman, who, according to some accounts, was already besotted by the beautiful Cleopatra, took up her son's case before the Senate. But they refused to recognize him as one of Caesar's heirs. Civil war broke out, and after the defeat of Caesar's murderers, Antony took control over the East. Summoned to his headquarters in present-day Turkey, Cleopatra made her entry at dusk on a scented, candlelit barge: and so began one of the greatest love stories of all time - an eleven-year love affair that created the ancient world's most famous celebrity couple. The affair became all-consuming and fired the lovers with the ambition to create a new order. Had they succeeded, our world today might have been very different. Filled with murder, intrigue, civil war and great battles, the tragedy of Cleopatra and Antony has fascinated the world for two millennia, and has been depicted by everyone from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the iconic 1960s film. Now Diana Preston has gone back to the original sources and delved into the real history behind the propaganda and the myth, to breathe new life into this epic love story.

A Teardrop on the Cheek of Time

The Story of the Taj Mahal

A Teardrop on the Cheek of Time

In 1631, the heartbroken Moghul Emperor, Shah Jahan, ordered the construction of a monument of unsurpassed splendour and majesty in memory of his beloved wife. Theirs was an extraordinary story of passionate love: although almost constantly pregnant - she bore him fourteen children - Mumtaz Mahal followed her husband on every military campaign.But then Mumtaz died in childbirth. Blinded by grief, Shah Jahan created an exquisite and extravagant memorial for her on the banks of the river Jumna. The Taj Mahal took twenty years to build and depleted the Moghul treasuries.But Shah Jahan was to pay a greater price for his obsession. He ended his days imprisoned by his own son in Agra Fort, gazing across the river at the monument to his love. The building of the Taj Mahal had set brother against brother and son against father in a savage conflict that pushed the seventeenth century's most powerful empire into irreversible decline.

Lives of the Pirates

Swashbucklers, Scoundrels (Neighbors Beware!)

Lives of the Pirates

Every kid knows that pirates talk funny, swing a big sword, and seek buried treasure—don’t they? What do we really know about Blackbeard, Madame Cheng, Sir Francis Drake, and other men and women of pirate history? What drove them to sail the high seas? What were their bad habits, favorite foods, and silly quirks? And did they actually talk like that? A lively style, lots of surprises, and solid research have made the Lives of . . . series of collective biographies popular with both kids and adults. Now the series returns, spanning the globe with profiles of the nineteen most notorious pirates in history.

Pirates in History and Popular Culture

Pirates in History and Popular Culture

This collection of new essays covers the myriad portrayals of the figure of the pirate in historical records, literary narratives, films, television series, opera, anime and games. Contributors explore the nuances of both real and fictional pirates, giving attention to renowned works such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, the Pirates of the Caribbean saga, and the anime One Piece, as well as less well known works such as pirate romances, William Clarke Russell’s The Frozen Pirate, Lionel Lindsay’s artworks, Steven Speilberg’s The Adventures of Tintin, and Pastafarian texts.

Before the Fall-Out

From Marie Curie To Hiroshima

Before the Fall-Out

Spanning fifty years, Before the Fall-Out tells the full story of how an exhilarating quest to unravel the secrets of the material world produced the knowledge of how to destroy it.And of how a scientific adventure shared openly between nuclear physicists from many different nations transmuted into a secretive wartime race for the ultimate weapon of mass destruction - the atom bomb. As much as on the science, Before the Fall-Out focuses on the 'human chain reaction' - the intertwined lives of the many scientists of many nations whose compulsive curiosity led, however unwittingly, ultimately to Hiroshima. In her page-turning account Diana Preston reveals how individuals responded to events - from Allied scientists debating the morality of deploying the bomb, to Japanese civilians who became its first victims, and to a German chemist working on the Nazi bomb project while concealing a Jewish pianist in his Berlin apartment. Diana Preston draws on fresh material including interviews with the last living scientist to have worked with Marie Curie, the only senior scientist to have walked out on the Manhattan Project on moral grounds, and the German scientist who accompanied Werner Heisenberg on his controversial wartime visit to Niels Bohr in Copenhagen. A Manhattan Project scientist said that the only secret of the bomb was that it could be made: once this was known, any nation could replicate it. Before the Fall-Out helps us make better sense of our own, dangerous world and of the threats and moral dilemmas that face our society today.

The Dark Defile

Britain's Catastrophic Invasion of Afghanistan, 1838-1842

The Dark Defile

"The consequences of crossing the Indus once to settle a government in Afghanistan will be a perennial march into that country."--The Duke of Wellington, 1838 "There is nothing more to be dreaded or guarded against in our endeavor to re-establish the Afghan monarchy than the overweening confidence with which Europeans are too often accustomed to regard the excellence of their own institutions and the anxiety that they display to introduce them in new and untried soils."--Claude Wade, January 1839. Convinced in 1839 that Britain's invaluable empire in India was threatened by Russia, Persia, and Afghan tribes, the British government ordered its Army of the Indus into Afghanistan to oust from power the independent-minded king Dost Mohammed and install in Kabul the unpopular puppet ruler Shah Shuja. Expecting a quick campaign, the British found themselves trapped by unforeseen circumstances; eventually the tribes united and the seemingly omnipotent army was slaughtered in 1842 as it desperately retreated through the mountain passes from Kabul to Jalalabad. Only one man survived. Diana Preston vividly recounts the drama of this First Afghan War, the opening salvo in the strategic rivalry between Britain and Russia for supremacy in Central Asia. As insightful about geography as she is about political and military miscalculation, Preston draws on rarely documented letters and diaries to bring alive long lost characters--Lord Auckland, the weak British Governor-General in India; his impetuous aide William McNaghten; the prescient adventurer-envoy Alexander Burnes, whose sage advice was steadfastly ignored. A model of compelling narrative history, The First Afghan War is a cautionary tale that resonates loudly today.

Galapagos at the Crossroads

Pirates, Biologists, Tourists, and Creationists Battle for Darwin's Cradle of Evolution

Galapagos at the Crossroads

As eloquent as it is alarming, Carol Ann Bassett’s portrait of today’s Galápagos depicts a deadly collision of economics, politics, and the environment that may destroy one of the world’s last Edens. For millions, the Galápagos Islands represent nature at its most unspoiled, an inviolate place famed for its rare flora and fauna. But soon today’s 30,000 human residents could surpass 50,000. Add invasive species, floods of tourists, and unresolved conflicts between Ecuadorian laws and local concerns, and it’s easy to see why the Galápagos were recently added to UNESCO’s World Heritage in Danger list. Each chapter in this provocative, perceptive book focuses on a specific person or group with a stake in the Galápagos’ natural resources—from tour companies whose activities are often illegal and not always green, to creationist guides who lead tours with no mention of evolution, from fishermen up in arms over lobster quotas, to modern-day pirates who poach endangered marine species. Bassett presents a perspective as readable as it is sensible. Told with wit, passion, and grace, the Galápagos story serves as a miniature model of Earth itself, a perfect example of how an environment can be destroyed-- and what is being done to preserve these islands before it's too late.