Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Review: Cochrane - The Life and Exploits of a Fighting Captain

Thomas Cochrane, as Robert Harvey's book suggests, was a remarkable military tactician.

If you wanted to write a fictional war story, or create a movie based on a ship of war in the early 1800's, all you need to do is start with Cochrane's exploits. And then tone them down a bit to make them more realistic.

Yes, his accomplishments are really that impressive.

He had a remarkable approach to fighting that was far ahead of his time. Instead of fighting battles like everyone else around him, he adopted what at the time must have seemed like crazy ideas. He emphasised speed and agility over massive size. He preferred a good deception instead of a head to head fight. He developed advanced weapons instead of relying on what always had been used. And he defended and gave credit to his crew instead of treating them like replaceable parts.

In many ways, he was practicing the same principles our special forces do today, and with equally positive results.

He was also a fairly eclectic personality with a fair amout of drama (mostly caused by his own actions) going on outside of his military life. He managed to serve in parliment, be a bounty hunter and spend time in jail.

I give this book an 8.763/10 for being both and inspirational biography as well as a fun read. And while I doubt I'll be using the military tactics anytime soon, they can surely be applied to business and other leadership scenarios.

And, if we do decide to bring back wind powered ships, I'll certainly now have the edge in battle.


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