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Captain James Cook: A Biography Hardcover – April, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
One thing that caught my attention was how radically different Captain Cook behaved on his third and final voyage. On the earlier voyages, he acted much more decisively, and showed remarkable concern for his men. They in turn developed great affection and respect for their leader.
On that last fateful voyage, Cook acted very much out of character. He was short-tempered, even cruel. He made hasty or stupid decisions and took foolish risks. At more than one point the crew was close to mutiny.
Hough explains that perhaps Cook was suffering from a parasitic infection or other physical and mental afflictions. This might explain his unusual behavior. It also occured to me that perhaps the good captain was simply "burned out" (to use a modern phrase). After having completed two round-the-world trips of 2-plus years each, the last thing this man needed was another long voyage. Even his superiors in the Admiralty knew he needed and deserved a rest. Cook himself must have known that too. Yet, his sense of duty impelled him to volunteer for one more mission. The Admirals should never have permitted it. Certainly not so soon after Cook's return from Voyage Two.
This is a good book. I have long admired James Cook; now after reading Hough's work, I list the captain among my heroes.
One final note: another reviewer asks why Cook was "always returning to Tahiti." Perhaps I missed something, but I only counted three visits by Cook to that island.Read more ›
The author poses the possibility that a medical condition precipitated this sudden change of character, but it may also have been early senility, Altzheimer's or dementia brought on by stress - who knows?
The book is full of interesting clips from various people's logs, which show other views of life under Cook's leadership. The main thrust of the book is not that Cook was in the right place at the right time, but that he made such a consummate job of ensuring that the surveys were carried out in a methodical manner, with a healthy crew and sound ship. After all, it was HIS decision on what type of ship to use, what food to keep the crew healthy, how to deal with the natives and his diplomacy that ensured that the first 2 voyages were such a resounding success.
All this is in sharp contrast to the last voyage, where he allowed the shipyard to take liberties with the refitting of his ships, the lack of diplomacy, his cruelty to the natives and his lack of patience with his crew. This only serves to reinforce what an extraordinary leader he had been.
A splendid read which has furthered my interest in history and exploration - more like this please!
Richard Hough effects a daring read of this fascinating man. With firsthand quotes from the men who were on Cook's three voyages, the book is complete of adventure, misfortunes, perilous storms, native peoples with their ensuing customs and demeanor, geographical descriptions, disorientation, cannibalism, scurvy outbreaks, etc.
He joined the Royal Navy and worked his way up the ranks becoming surveyor in eastern Canada. With honor and distinction from these years of service, he accepts a position to captain an expedition to the South Pacific for exploration and to study the Transit of Venus for astronomical observations.
With accolades from this voyage, Cook is again asked to lead an expedition to the South Pacific in order to discover and survey the South Pole. Adventure after adventure follows.
His third and final voyage is to locate the mythical northwest passage by first journeying east around the Cape of Good Hope and then straight north through Hawaii to the northwest coast of North America. We see during this final expedition that due to a possible parasitic intestinal infection from his previous voyage, Cook's character and conduct is unbecoming of him and at times his behavior is unrestrained. He meets his final days at the hands of Hawaiian natives.
A discerning look into an accomplished and extraordinary man.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really wonderful book. Exciting and easy to read. Lots of diary quotes from the crew. The only thing that could improve it would be better maps.Published 1 month ago by shopper101
One of my favorite Cook biographies. Concise, well written and covering in depth his 3 historic voyages with good insights on key members of his crews. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jeff Snedden
Richard Hough’s Captain James Cook: A Biography tells the story of the incredible life of the British explorer, Captain James Cook. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jake Zirkle
a fascinating book,, well written and in depth history. What an amazing man was Cook and what vast distances he travelled in a very modest sized vessel. Highly recommend.Published 3 months ago by BT
Informative, however, the author is far too dry. The first 4 chapters were painful to read and was like reading the warnings on prescription drugs. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mike Shearman
Wow....from this biography I have drawn many parallels to real life. I served in the military for over 20 years and served 3 combat tours and have seen many, including myself,... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Iron Mike
A very well-written biography, in everyday language that is easy to understand.Published 10 months ago by Philip Smith