Crusoe’s Island: A Rich and Curious History of Pirates, Castaways and Madness by Andrew Lambert - review by Peter Moore

Peter Moore

Marooned with a View

Crusoe’s Island: A Rich and Curious History of Pirates, Castaways and Madness

By

Faber & Faber 306pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

In his Essay on the Sea-Scurvy of 1753, Anthony Addington mapped out the horrific symptoms of the disease: ‘a low unequal Pulse … a pale-brown or livid Complexion, a Weakness and Swelling or sometimes Wasting of the Legs, a Difficulty in walking, acute transient Pains, frequent Bleedings at the Nose, stinking Breath, putrid Gums, loose Teeth, ill-condition’d Ulcers, and rotten Bones’.

In his engaging new book, the historian Andrew Lambert adds a psychological symptom to Addington’s litany of miseries. Starved of vitamin C and amino acids, he explains, the sufferer is projected into a world of heightened perception. Tastes, flavours and smells become intense. As the body crumples, the

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