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The Pirate who Stole Scotland (Hardback)

William Dampier and the Creation of the United Kingdom

Maritime P&S History > British History P&S History > By Century > 17th Century World History > UK & Ireland > Scotland

By Leon Hopkins
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 248
Illustrations: 20 mono
ISBN: 9781399093644
Published: 16th January 2023



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Economic warfare is not a new phenomenon. In the protectionist climate of the seventeenth century, trade embargoes, exclusions and boycotts were common.

England was among the most active nations when it came to using economic clout to get its own way. It did so to force Scotland to accept an Act of Union: to submerge its independence within a United Kingdom governed from London.

Instrumental in this attack upon the Scots was William Dampier, the principal subject of this book. He was an extraordinary man. A farmer’s son, he became the most travelled man of his generation. He was a pirate, a brute and a devious sociopath. But he was also a scientist and a talented writer who gave his readers accurate descriptions of previously unknown places, peoples, plants and animals. He was a daring explorer and an expert navigator who mapped coastlines and logged wind patterns and ocean currents. He led the first Royal Navy expedition to Australia, over 70 years before Captain Cook’s arrival.

Dampier’s writing made him famous, but not rich. It allowed him to rub shoulders with the leading men of his day; scientists such as Robert Hooke, Edmund Halley and Hans Sloane, businessmen such as Sir John Houblon (first governor of the Bank of England) and William Paterson, politicians such as James Vernon and Charles Montagu (first Earl of Halifax), and Admiralty men such as Admiral Sir George Rooke and Samuel Pepys.

And Dampier was in the pay of the English Government; an agent known to Queen Anne, in which capacity he engineered a financial disaster and political drubbing for Scotland.

A fascinating book from start to finish that Scotland history lovers and even those wanting pirate knowledge will discover. Absolutely phenomenal with so much knowledge that is absolutely fascinating!

NetGalley, Barb Massabrook

The Pirate Who Stole Scotland adeptly recounts the journeys and unlikely escapades of a fascinating author-seafarer who has again become rather obscure in maritime history...Leon Hopkin’s admirable book exhumes a fascinating, largely forgotten story. It is an excellent contribution to maritime history literature."

The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord, Vol. 33, No. 2 (Summer/Été 2023) - the Canadian Nautical Research Society

I enjoyed the book. It is wide ranging, even ambitious, in its subject matter, but above all, entertaining.

Read the Full Review Here

Naval Review

What I knew of Dampier was of his pirate-hunting in the Caribbean; had no idea of this part of his life story. Very interesting historical figure.

NetGalley, Jesse Lewis

The writer has done a really good job in gaining what information he could find, and has helped write a clear book that has been made easier to read and understand. A really interesting book about a figure in history that should get more attention than he has.

Read the Full Review Here

The History Fella

4 out of 5

The author has done a huge amount of research, and there’s a lot to learn from this very interesting book.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

After reading 'born to be Hanged', I was very happy to read a recently written history via NetGalley.com that was cogent, well reasoned, well written and well researched. Moreover a book not dictating history, but giving a more objective view, as history should be presented.

Hopkins layout the Dampier history from birth and into his nefarious activities. His approach is based more upon documentation and not writing a grandiose story of a life. Thus, his early life is quickly touched and on to what has empirical proof. I love that Hopkins often presents multiple views of Dampier's comings and goings. Raising questions as to what is often presented as gospel. All of this concludes to, what I think is most important to know of history: We don't know it all and we won't.

Hopkins is quite thorough and gets into nuts and bolts of the travels in a very well written narrative. He breaks out in parts of more of individuals involved and their actions and motivations that eventually entangle in with Dampier's. This gives a better view of what happened than the typical "he did this" and "this is the result" writing.

One issue I have may be more involving the digital presentation of NetGalley.com than what the physical book may be laid out. One was that the side stories of the others involved blends in with the narrative, which is confusing at times. The physical version might have a layout segregating the stories in separate boxes or some such.
The other issue is the lack of maps. These are critical involving books of such vast travels. The actual published version may be packed with maps. The NetGalley.com version has no maps included.

Of the few dozen recent non-fiction books I've reviewed via NatGalley.com, only 3 are open minded, not-politically driven. This is one of those and it is unfortunate that there are so few. Kudos to Hopkins for doing the job well!

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 10 out of ten points.

NetGalley, Rob Smith

About Leon Hopkins

Leon Hopkins is a journalist and author.
After a short career in financial analysis, he joined Accountancy Age, which he later edited. Other accountancy titles followed as did writing for, editing and publishing a variety of business and professional magazines. Leon has written for national newspapers and is author of non-fiction books on subjects ranging from auditing to letting. The Hundredth Year described the history of the accountancy profession in England and An Armenian Family Torn Apart, which he translated, describes life during the Armenian Genocide. He also has a published novel to his name, There’s Only One Henry Green.

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