Andrew Taylor

The Botanical Buccaneer

A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: The Life of William Dampier


Doubleday 372pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

THE FORGOTTEN HERO of this book is not named William, but George. Diana and Michael Preston found him, necessarily alone, in a conservation park in the Galapagos Islands, munching solemnly on the shoots of a candelabra cactus. He appears for just three lines in the book, but his shadow falls over every paragraph: he is the one surviving member of his subspecies of the islands’ most famous inhabitants. ‘The fabled armies of tortoises so relished by Dampier are gone, plundered by successive generations of human predators.- . . .

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