01 April 2003

Book Review: The Life and Adventures of John Nicol, Mariner, by Timothy Flaney, *****

The true story of a pioneering sailor who travelled the world at the end of the 18th century. In his many voyages, the Scottish-born John Nichol circumnavigated the globe, visiting every inhabited continent. He participated in many of the greatest events of exploration and adventure. He battled pirates, traded with Native Americans and fought for the British Navy in the American and French Revolutions; he also travelled on the first female convict ship to Australia, was entertained in Hawaii by the king's court, days after the murder of Captain James Cook, and witnessed the horrors of the slave system in Jamaica.

There are two reasons to read this book. First, a marvellous account of life at sea in the 18th century, written beautifully and yet spontaneously by a simple sailor.

Second, a moving human microstory of genuine love, adventure and lost hope. The two intertwine magnificently and I could not help identifying with the writer's plight.

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