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Cochrane

The Life and Exploits of a Fighting Captain
Narrated by: Richard Matthews
Length: 10 hrs and 11 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (106 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The life and adventures of Thomas Cochrane, a young man who rose from midshipman to admiral, are so extraordinary that, to paraphrase Patrick O'Brian, one has to suspend disbelief. In fact, O'Brian admitted to using Cochrane as the model for his character Jack Aubrey. Second only to Nelson among the heroes of the Royal Navy, Cochrane became a household name in Britain during the 1800s as the Admiralty called upon his extraordinary skill as a sailor, his mastery of gunnery, and his daring use of ruses, including flying under false colors, to overcome ships many times his size. His fearlessness became a byword and his life on land became as colorful as at sea. Here truly is a legendary hero.
©2000 Robert Harvey (P)2000 Books on Tape, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"All the publisher's promises about the audiobook being 'brilliant and thrilling' are true." (AudioFile)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

The Real Jack Aubrey

Cochrane: The Life and Exploits of a Fighting Captain

If you're a fan of Patrick O'Brian's wonderful Master & Commander novels, here's your chance to meet the historical character upon whom Lucky Jack Aubrey was based.

As Patrick O'Brian was the first to admit, Jack Aubrey's career during the Napoleonic Wars runs a close parallel to that of Lord Thomas Cochrane's. But the O'Brian novels are - ironically - more believable because you know they're fiction. The daring exploits of Cochrane are even more incredible because they are historic fact.

Aside from their adventures at sea, Aubrey’s and Cochrane’s lives ran along similar paths. Both men were poor at handling their finances. Both loved their wives but were capable of the occasional indiscretion. Both men were members of Parliament who were far too outspoken and politically inept. Both were drummed out of the British Navy in disgrace. Both were redeemed in their lifetimes.

Richard Mathews does an able job with the narration, giving Lord Cochrane a lilting Scottish brogue.

Lovers of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels should hurry and download this history. There’s not a moment to lose.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 12-19-14

A Complicated Man

Second only to Horatio Nelson, Lord Thomas Cochrane (1775-1860) is considered the most successful Captain in the British Naval history. Cochrane was the tenth Earl of Dundonald. He was from a noble Scottish family.

Harvey covers the three aspects of Cochrane’s career: fighting Captain in the British Navy, radical politician, he was a Member of Parliament and expatriate military genius who after suffering disgrace in England, helped South American countries and Greece battle for independence.

Cochrane’s exploits were the inspiration of C. S. Forrester, Patrick O’Brian and Frederic Marryal. As you read this book you can discover the various exploits these authors used in their books.

The author shows how Cochrane used deception, tactical strategy and expert seamanship to win battles against supposedly unbeatable opponents. His strength was such that Napoleon dubbed him “Le loupdes mers” (the Sea Wolf)

Harvey captures the excitement of his daring do with gripping prose. The section about his career in Parliament and exploits in South America I found interesting which surprised me as other reviews complained about this section. In keeping the biography balanced Harvey did cover Cochrane’s feud with the Admiralty and the alleged involvement in a stock exchange scandal. Later in his career he was made an Admiral in the British Navy.

Cochrane inspired a 1967 collection of poems by Pablo Neruda “Lord Cochrane de Chile” which was set to music by Chilean composer Gustavo Becerra-Schmidt. I most enjoyed the section about the Napoleonic wars. The book was narrated by Richard Matthews. If you are interested in the Napoleonic Naval Wars or British Naval history this is a book for you.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Cocrane biography

This is the best account of Cocrane I have read. It is full and complete, but leaves out the boring bits that other biographies include.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

It all pieces together for me now!

Master and Commander and Horatio Hornblower and even The Terror, all make more sense to me now. I wanted a book on Lord Nelson, but I ended up getting this one on Cochrane, and I am SO GLAD I DID. This guy, I can empathize with. I understand why now, as a yank, I am so obsessed with the sea, and the British navy. Cochrane was an outspoken individual, in a time when one could be hanged for such. But he kept being himself, at any cost. He kept learning, and maturing. I haven't even finished this yet, but I am blown away, at how this is going to help educate me, and perhaps, I can write something like this, or delve more into the history of the British Admiralty, which seems like a greedy and evil enterprise. Or at least it was until recently. Again, please remember I am an "American Idiot" It all started, when I watched TABOO, because I think Tom Hardy, as an actor, is pretty talented...when he doesn't choose awful roles...ahem...VENOM.....gag "Some people are locked down, some are free, 'cuz I know, I'm married to the sea." Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards "Viking" I have married the sea, as well. Thank you Audible, for helping me figure out my life, and getting me through the most hellish few years I've ever had as an adult. Save one life, you save the world entire. Getting just one audiobook when I feel like I can't go on, saves my life every month. And I am eternally grateful that we live in a time that we can listen to so many books, and learn so much, from the comfort of our polished prisons....aka.....American homes.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating bio of the real Hornblower

I ended up purchasing a written copy of the book so as to read and absorb better the more technical details of some of the actions described.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Paul
  • Duarte CA
  • 03-27-18

Sailing rogue warrior

Here is a story so typical in the human experience. An innovator not fitting in with the authorities. Punished unjustly with no enduring accountability to the perpetrators.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • JackMargo
  • St Petersburg, FL, United States
  • 01-26-16

History is Better Than Fiction

If you love sea stories and characters of the sea -
If you appreciate valor, courage and devotion to duty -
You are going to love this book.

If you admired Nelson or Hornblower or any other fictional or historic figure of the days of sail, you will love Cochran.

Most sea stories are only the wild imaginings of someone's mind.
Cochran is real life.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nan51
  • Sammamish, WA USA
  • 04-15-15

Better Than Fiction!

Where does Cochrane rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This audiobook ranks among my favorites. The life of Thomas Cochrane was so amazing. The narrator, Richard Matthews, is excellent and brings the words to life. I have to listen when no one is nearby to watch my reactions because I find myself laughing in surprise and admiration of Cochrane's bold choices. So many of Jack Aubrey's adventures follow Cochrane's career as a "Fighting Captain" in the Royal Navy as well as in Chile and Peru.

Who was your favorite character and why?

There's only one - this is about Thomas Cochrane. He's larger than life and yet all too human. I'm sure that once I finish this audiobook I'll have to listen to it all over again.

Have you listened to any of Richard Matthews’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not heard any of Richard Matthews's other performances but I'll certainly look for others.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

So far, my major reaction been when laughing in surprise at the bold decisions of Cochrane when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. He does the unexpected and makes his enemies hesitate just long enough for him to change the odds. So amazing!

Any additional comments?

This book and audiobook have been exactly what I needed after finishing O'Brian's 21 books and audiobooks. Robert Harvey, the author, did a masterful job of writing a biography that educates and well as entertains. Richard Matthews was absolutely wonderful in voicing Cochrane's words and immersing the listener in story. I was captivated. I recommend this audiobook to people who love action, adventure and history. Terrific!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Good History on an Amazing Captain

What does Richard Matthews bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Richard reads quotes from the book in a beautiful Scottish accent, serves as a reminder that Cochrane was a Scott and adds some authenticity.

Any additional comments?

The story of Thomas Cochrane is fascinating, especially those who enjoy naval history and reading about the crazy battles at sea. This book delivers on taking you back to a time before engines and massive naval canons.

Cochrane was incredibly bold with his tactics and strategies, doing things like loading a ship full of explosives and blowing up enemy ports. Reading about how he commanded the HMS Speedy in battle is brilliance at its finest.

Around half way through, the book then turns to the scandal the ruined the man. This is where the mild fans will separate from the hardcore as it get a bit story heavy and may only really appeal to those really interested in the man or the history around him.

I still found it a great listen overall. I decided to check this book out because I loved Richard Matthews reading of A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson). He did such a great job that I wanted to hear another book ready by him.