“The adventures of a hot-tempered and impetuous Scottish pirate named Alexander Selkirk inspired one of literature’s greatest adventures, as our author, himself a member of the family, recounts.”
Bruce Selcraig in Smithsonian Magazine:
Three centuries ago an impetuous Scottish sailor known as Alexander Selkirk was languishing off the coast of Chile in a battle-scarred, worm-eaten British ship called the Cinque Ports when he began to argue with the captain that the leaky, disease-ridden vessel was a deathtrap. Selkirk, a skilled navigator, and the ship’s sickened crew were privateers—in effect, legalized pirates for the British Crown—who had spent a year at sea off South America robbing Spanish ships and coastal villages. Selkirk had already been on a similar voyage. He knew all the risks. But by October 1704, as the Cinque Ports anchored off a deserted archipelago 418 miles west of Valparaiso, Chile, he had made a life-changing decision.
Selkirk demanded that his 21-year-old captain, Lt. Thomas Stradling, whom he regarded as arrogant, leave him on the largest island, a wish that Stradling was only too happy to oblige.