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Captain Cook: Master of the Seas Hardcover – June 7, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Thoroughly researched and sharply opinionated."—Michael J. Ybarra, Wall Street Journal
(Michael J. Ybarra The Wall Street Journal)

“[A] first-class biography by a prominent British historian, Frank McLynn.”—John M. Taylor, The Washington Times
(John M. Taylor Washington Times)

“McLynn does a yeoman’s work in transforming Cook’s terse, factual notations in the ships’ logs into a much more readable portrayal of his voyages.”—Publisher's Weekly
(Publisher's Weekly)

“[A]n accessible and exciting popular biography.”—Michael Fathers, Literary Review
(Michael Fathers Literary Review 2011-04-01)

“The life and eventual death of one of the most famous explorers in history is thoroughly dissected and brought to vivid colour in this work, which brings alive conditions at sea in an age when sailors were literally at the ends of the Earth.”—Kent on Saturday (Kent on Saturday 2011-05-28)

“[An] elegant and intriguing biography”—Ross Fitzgerald, Sydney Morning Herald
(Ross Fitzgerald Sydney Morning Herald 2011-07-23)

“A thorough and absorbing account”—Paul Orange, West Australian
(Paul Orange West Australian 2011-08-06)

About the Author

Frank McLynn is a highly regarded historian specializing in biographies and military history. He has written more than twenty books, including Richard and John: Kings at War, Napoleon, and Marcus Aurelius: A Life. He lives in Surrey, England.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 490 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (June 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300114214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300114218
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,270,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Malcolm F. Fuller on November 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is much to admire in this book, which is extensively researched and referenced. It summarizes Cook's three great voyages but, unlike Cooks' own journals, or even J.C. Beaglehole's biography, takes a much wider view of them, considering the social and political context in which they were conducted. McLynn emphasizes particularly Cook's attempts (and failures) to understand the Polynesian psyche, especially in its religious aspects, a matter that has puzzled many another voyager, including Melville. McLynn also considers extensively the alteration in Cook's behavior in the third voyage. There are suggestions of a possible physical origin but reliable evidence is lacking. Cook's extraordinary seamanship and his magnificent achievements as a navigator are fully acknowledged and highly praised but the book ends with the rather sad feeling that Cook pushed himself into one voyage too many, one that ended with his tragic death at the hands of a people he tried in vain to understand.
Despite the quality of the McLynn's scholarship and his the extensive and interesting researches the book was marred for me by a truly extraordinary number of errors. Apart from typographic and spelling errors which suggest that the book was never properly proof-read there are errors of fact and statements that reveal that the author has not taken the trouble to acquaint himself with the language of ships and the sea. I would expect a historian who writes about a great seaman and the ships he sailed to familiarize himself sufficiently with correct terminology, as used in Cook's journals, rather than paraphrase badly, giving the impression that accuracy in such matters is of no importance.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By doc on February 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Mclynn is really forcing it here. His many misstatements and uncritical observations and conclusions make this book painful to read, especially for Captain Cook enthusiasts. The general impression is that he is skating on very thin ice, employing a very limited number of substantial sources, and often accepting their outrageous statements without batting an eye. A favorite example of mine is when Mclynn states that Cook recorded an extraordinarily hot day on Tahiti--119 degrees. This would be an extraordinarily hot day, if it were true. In fact it would be way, way off the scale for the climate of Tahiti. I guess, when Mclynn picked this tidbit from Cook's journal (Beaglehole), he didn't notice that Cook says straight out he set the thermometer IN THE SUN. No one would accept this as sound science, or a remarkable event in the history of Tahiti, or British imperialist exploration, unless he or she was already predisposed to exaggerate in favor of Cook's greatness. I recommend 1/2 star for the book and twelve lashes for the author for wasting precious paper.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael GreenWest Coast British on March 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So much has been written about this man... my god. One of THE, if not the most celebrated explorer in history! Columbus couldn't navigate (never found "America" but an island he "thought" was India... ) Whereas Cook put so many new lands & islands on the map he is second to none. He was so respected that during the revolutionary war in America, American ships were told to leave Cook alone!
Today the world has sadly changed, many blame their own troubles on Capt Cook, which as we really know is total and utter nonsense. Cook was to become a great Captain & leader of men, Map maker and explorer. The maps he drew were still in use in the 1940s during Americas war on Japan, the US Navy using "old British maps" to navigate around the Pacific. The maps were so accurate that even today with GPS it's amazing how he was able to get the LON/LAT correct, and the drawings of these maps so detailed.
Capt Cook should be required reading for all school kids (like Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh). The places he discovered, people he met, or wished he hadn't, it's adventure at its best, the likes of we'll never see again.
As the son of English parents (who served in the British military over the ages) I was taught about Cook, Nelson, Drake, and the how the British came to North America. How soon we all forget how these people and events effected history, and our lives now in America. How many school kids know what name Cook gave the Hawaiian Islands? (Sandwich Islands, after Lord Sandwich... the same guy who created what you have for lunch). Or that in even on the west coast of America Cook left his mark, look at a map of Alaska and the Bering straights. A very amazing man with many tail to tell.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Comer on May 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Good read that put you in the moment. You could almost feel the emotions of Cook and his crew. Treatment of the first and second voyages and the character development was excellent. Chapters on the third voyage seemed kind of rushed. A little put off by the Marxist gushing in the closing comments but a good defense against revisionist history.
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