The Extraordinary Voyages of Captain James Cook

Book - 2003
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Commonly regarded as the greatest sea explorer of all time, James Cook made his three world-changing voyages during the 1770s, at a time when ships were routinely lost around the English coast. He made history by making geography-- sailing through previously unknown southern seas, charting the eastern Australian coast and circumnavigating New Zealand, putting many Pacific islands on the map, and exploring both the Arctic and Antarctic. His men suffered near shipwreck, were ravaged by tropical diseases, and survived frozen oceans; his lieutenants-- including George Vancouver and William Bligh-- became celebrated captains in their own right. Exploits among native peoples combined to make Cook a celebrity and a legend.

Cook is not, however, viewed by all as a heroic figure. Some Hawaiians demonize him as a syphilitic rascist who had a catastrophic effect on local health. Indigenous Australians often see him as the violent dispossessor of their lands. Nicholas Thomas explores Cook's contradictory character as never before, by reconstructing the many sides of encounters that were curious and unusual for Europeans and natives alike. The result of twenty years' research, Thomas's magnificently rich portrait overturns the familiar images of Cook and reveals the fascinating and far more ambiguous figure beneath.

Publisher: New York : Walker & Company, c2003.
ISBN: 9780802714121
Branch Call Number: 910.92 Thomas 2003
Characteristics: xxxvii, 467 p. :,ill., maps ;,25 cm.


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Aug 22, 2014

Cook: The Extraordinary Voyages of Captain James Cook --- by --- Nicholas Thomas. James Cook, navigator, geographer and explorer had already completed significant cartographic and navigational work off the coast of Newfoundland when he was tapped to find the expected “antipodean” landmass in the South Pacific .During three voyages beginning in 1768 and ending with his death in Hawaii in 1780 he accomplished much. He discovered or visited virtually all Pacific Island groups; circumnavigated New Zealand; landed on Australia; was able to discount the existence of an accessible southern continent and then, in his northern voyage find no northwest passage around the northern extent of North America. These were voyages of heroic proportions that, according to some, were made by a man, larger than life. But the book is not quite as swash-buckling: It proceeds slowly, sometimes, seemingly without energy and with much introspection --- with talk about the natives and the significance of this or that. I wanted more “let’s get on with it”. But for the serious student, undoubtedly this is quite a helpful buck. For the rest of us, well, it may be too much “filler”.


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