Harcourt, Oct 2002, 13.00, 246 pp.
In 1703 an aristocrat and a sea captain cut a deal to pillage the Manila galleon. In 1704, they set sail with one of the sailors being Alexander Selkirk, a poor Scot. Alexander and the officers, especially Captain Dampier, had several arguments. So the Captain marooned Selkirk on a remote South Seas Island three hundred miles from South America and now owned by Chile and renamed Isla Robinson Crusoe. For the next four years he survived by himself before finally being rescued. Selkirk became a celebrity in England and the model for Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, written two decades later.
Diana Souhami provides readers with a delightful biography of Selkirk that separate fact from fiction. Ms. Selkirk digs deep into the records of the time so that the audience obtains a complete picture of the man, which is quite different from the legend. The results are a superb biography that showcases Ms. Souhami's talent as much as her subject, the ultimate survivor. Readers will enjoy “The true and strange adventures of the real Robinson Crusoe” as much as the Defoe's fictionalized account. Just reconsider the role of those goats.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner