Five Quick Questions: John Dunmore

We grabbed John Dunmore author of Scoundrels & Eccentrics of the Pacific for our new Five Quick Questions series.

Scoundrels & Eccentrics of the Pacific is a wonderfully crafted collection of tales of the men, and in some cases the women, who sought to benefit from the discoveries of the early explorers. They were mostly scoundrels and rogues with little conscience but great craftiness, and they left in their wake others who found themselves victims of unimaginable situations.

In the book you’ll meet the adventurers who once made the great Pacific their playground — from likeable dreamers to outright conmen, slavers and pirates, and even one self-titled Queen Emma.

1: What surprised you most when working on Scoundrels & Eccentrics of the Pacific?

John: What I found most surprising was the speed with which pirates and crooks found their way into the Pacific once the Europeans had “discovered” it.

2: Of all the historical figures in the book, who would you be most fascinated to meet?

John: All the characters involved are fascinating – their lives, their motives, the consequences of their presence in the Pacific, but the Chinese Hsu Fu is particularly fascinating and I would like to be able to talk to him: was he an explorer keen to help his emperor, who discovered land that was really part of Japan, something he turned into an opportunity to make money and become the founder of a large colony, fooling his Chinese backers? Or are the tales about him exaggerated?

3: You’ve written many books over the year, which one are you most proud of?

John: Books I am most proud of: probably the two-volume “French Explorers in the Pacific” published by Oxford. But also the journals of La Perouse, which I found missorted in the French archives, which I then edited in English, published by the Hakluyt Society, and then in a large, colourful, pricy two-volume French edition by the French National Library.

4: What book are you currently reading?

John: My current reading is random, away from the Pacific nowadays. At the moment I am reading Ken Follett’s long (and heavy, but impressive) “Pillars of the Earth”.

5: What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

John: The best book I’ve read would be hard to pick, after so many years of reading, both for research and for enjoyment. Just books.

Scoundrels & Eccentrics of the Pacific is on sale now.