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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adventures of a Real Adventurer
The biography _Farther Than Any Man: The Rise and Fall of Captain James Cook_ (Pocket Books) by Martin Dugard tells the story of the man who was arguably the greatest adventurer in the world. It is an amazing story of a driven man who repeatedly accomplished the impossible. For instance, it was simply not possible for Cook to become a Captain in the Royal Navy, as he...
Published on June 4, 2001 by R. Hardy

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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A journalist's jolly jaunt
Dugard's account of the life of explorer James Cook is a light, easily read introduction to England's greatest explorer. Dugard stresses the travails of a man of humble beginnings who, through force of his own will and some fortuitous connections garnered command of the first solo expedition into the South Pacific. He describes Cook's early voyages on colliers, moving...
Published on December 11, 2002 by Stephen A. Haines


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adventures of a Real Adventurer, June 4, 2001
The biography _Farther Than Any Man: The Rise and Fall of Captain James Cook_ (Pocket Books) by Martin Dugard tells the story of the man who was arguably the greatest adventurer in the world. It is an amazing story of a driven man who repeatedly accomplished the impossible. For instance, it was simply not possible for Cook to become a Captain in the Royal Navy, as he was a farmhand's son with no pull. He worked nine years in the commercial fleet in the North Sea, and against the judgement of everyone, halted a promising career to go to the bottom of the ranks in the Royal Navy. He again worked swiftly up the ranks, but had no chance of becoming an officer. Only the scheming of a scientist, a Lord, and King George III got him a commission, to go on a circumnavigation for a particular astronomical observation in Tahiti.
Cook commanded three circumnavigations, and racked up an impressive record, sailing farther north and farther south than anyone had. He found and charted new islands throughout the Pacific. He was an exemplary commander, a brilliant shiphandler who was reluctant to use the lash on his men. He also pioneered the use of an anti-scurvy diet that kept his men healthy. He kept close notes on the tribes he encountered and in the beginning, at least, had profitable and friendly relations with them. Eventually, worn out from adventuring, and not at home either in England or in what he wished to be a paradise of the Pacific, he became frustrated, and his frustration led directly to difficulties on his command, and in his death at the hands of the Sandwich Islanders.
Cook emerges from these pages as a complex figure, a flawed hero who can justly be called the greatest adventurer in history. The book includes fascinating accounts of naval facts, like what the sailors ate and by what means they were punished at sea. The way Dugard has told the story it is by turns exciting, comic, inspiring, and sad, and the narrative never flags.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A journalist's jolly jaunt, December 11, 2002
Dugard's account of the life of explorer James Cook is a light, easily read introduction to England's greatest explorer. Dugard stresses the travails of a man of humble beginnings who, through force of his own will and some fortuitous connections garnered command of the first solo expedition into the South Pacific. He describes Cook's early voyages on colliers, moving on to his decade-long exploration of the Newfoundland coasts. Lured away by the glories of the Royal Navy, Cook entered that force as a lowly seaman but rose rapidly to junior officer due to his cartography skills and forceful sense of drive.
Dugard dubs Cook "the original adventurer." Other expeditions had concentrated on map-ping coastlines along regularly used routes or finding harbours to serve as sanctuaries or supply bases. Cook's voyage in the Endeavour was the first journey dedicated to scientific studies. Cook's mandate was to convey a team of scientists to Tahiti. There they would study the rare phenomenon of Venus' transit across the face of the sun, adding to the navigator's store of tools. From that mid-Pacific isle, however, Cook was free to seek the legendary Southern Continent, particularly Antarctica. Given a mandate to wander the Pacific, Cook found yet another landmass, the island continent of Australia.
Dugard portrays Cook as impelled by several ambitions. To become the premier explorer of the Pacific, to bask in the adoration of its peoples, and show Britain's class-bound society that the son of a farm labourer was the equal of any aristocrat. He achieved all these aims, but at the usual cost to a man overcome by hubris. He went too far, barely staving off mutiny by a crew that adored him. In the end, of course, an act of arrogance cost him his life in Hawaii. Through all this tale of a man burdened by ambition, Dugard offers us glimpses of Elizabeth Cook who remained in England almost mindlessly cheering on her husband's goals. While Cook sailed as far as from the Earth to the Moon, Elizabeth bore and buried a succession of children. When the reader feels the urge to learn of her outlook in more detail, Dugard reminds us of her burning the Cook correspondence, eliminating any record of her thoughts. Unrestrained by evidence, Dugard blithely presents her viewpoint, derived from assumptions.
Given the wealth of books available on Cook and his voyages, this one stands well down on the list of "must read" titles. Only someone with a superficial interest in the explorer and his journeys would find this useful. A good introductory overview, its lack of bibliography or even an index renders this title merely a journalist's superficial exercise. There are simply too many scholarly books on Cook, some well written, to warrant spending much time with this one. Save it for the beach or cottage.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Every Journey needs a beginning, October 4, 2003
This review is from: Farther Than Any Man: The Rise and Fall of Captain James Cook (Paperback)
By no means a definitive account of Cook's life, but certainly a readable introduction to the legacy of this man.
Martin Dugard has touched lightly on many of the pressures Cook must surely have felt - His family, his birthright and position in society, his ambition, the relationship with his father, England's position in the World and the birth of Empire. It would be impossible to do all of this justice in just 300 pages, and I don't believe that Dugard is really attempting to. Instead, he offers the topics like a light buffet - take what you want, go and look for more on what interests you.
This informal style, laced with conjecture as to conversations or motives, will infuriate the purist historians. This book will also not appeal to those who hold Cook up as a definitive British hero. The author speculates on Cook's rationales and motives, but the message clear: Cook did indeed go father than any man. He led the world into a new era, both through his geographical discoveries and the courage he displayed in attaining them.
French Navigator Jean-François de Galaup de La Pérouse said of Cook that his work was so all-encompassing, there was little for his successors to do but admire it. This is not an all-encompassing account of Cook, but an easy place to begin your own voyage of discovery.
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A CANNIBALIZED COOK BOOK, January 16, 2002
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The publishers of this book suggest a genre classification of ADVENTURE/BIOGRAPHY. One thing is for sure; it is not a history book. It is, instead, a garbled, confused and at times, barely literate attempt at writing a psychodrama based on the life of that most famous of navigators, Captain James Cook.
You would think an author who wants to write about voyages of discovery, and purports to have done his research by following his subject's tracks around the globe would have his basic geography under control. We have Dugard wandering around London (UK) not knowing what side of the Thames River he is on. He takes us on a walk from the Deptford Docks near Greenwich (on the south bank) to Cook's house in the East End of London, without crossing the river! He takes us along famous London thoroughfares like Regency (sic) Street and Savile (sic once again) Row.
You would hope a book like this might have some useful maps. There is an attempt at one. Right up front of the book we get a chart of the world showing the tracks of the ships taken in Cook's three voyages. This map however is totally useless. The essence of Cook's peregrination around the Pacific saw him often crossing his paths and doubling back. The map in this book has tracks without arrows. You can't tell where he's come from or where he's going!
Dugard's inventiveness really comes into its own when he attempts to go inside the head of Cook. He gives us the passionate details of his relationship with his wife Elizabeth. The fact that Mrs Cook burnt all her correspondence with her husband before she died, and the total lack of details in Cook's own records of his personal life is a real convenience for the imaginative author.
Dugard's thesis is that Cook's eventual downfall at the hands of the Hawaiian BBQ Kings was due to an egotism that was verging on psychotic. Whenever the author starts to develop a case for a particular aspect of Cook's personality or a behavioural trait he goes and destroys his own argument a few pages later. Take the following two extracts as an example.
On p124 we have, "Cook had always taken a quiet pride in being in touch with his crew's emotions. Their worries and fears became his, for in his heart he was still one of them." Only 26 pages later we have, "He had always been detached and reclusive, absorbed in his own thoughts and dreams. But after this trip he became even less aware of other's needs".
Dugard also invents another motive for Cook's zeal for discovery. On at least 6 occasions in the book he claims Cook wanted to "wipe off the map" previous explorers contributions to cartography. The author provides zero evidence for this. In fact, immediately prior to one of these repeated claims on p216, he had just provided a quote from Cook's journal which shows the great navigator (contrary to Dugard's thesis) was only too willing to recognize the work of the explorers who went before him.
When Dugrad writes about common maritime practice and procedures, even the lay reader would be left gasping at his ignorance. In one account where Cook's ship is wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef, he tells us (twice) that it was Cook's "gut instinct" that the evening tide that day would be higher than the previous high tide seen during the day. Even a weekend sailor could have worked that out from a few prior observations.
Dugard's attempts at literary "style" fall in a heap. He tries to conjure up some 18th Century atmosphere by using lingo like "unbeknownst". A few paras later he goes and shatters it with modern metaphors like "laser-like intensity".
As an historic travelogue to places familiar to the 21st Century tourist, any visitor-info website could replace this book. For example, Dugard describes the entrance to Sydney Harbour as being between "two towering basalt heads". The golden cliffs of sandstone that erode to make the famous beaches of Bondi must have popped into existence in the last 200 years!
There is no shortage of great books written about the life and times of Captain Cook. An AMAZON search will give you the Penguin Classic "The Journals of Captain Cook" (you cannot go past the man's own words) or John C. Beaglehole's "The Life of Captain James Cook".
It is sad to see the publishing industry churning out "pot-boilers" like this book. With all the bloopers, inconsistencies and non sequitur logic in this text it hard to believe there were any editorial disciplines interposed between the author's manuscript and the printing press.
As a Cook Book this one belongs in the bargain bin --- right alongside titles like "101 Recipes for Olde English Style BBQ".
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good overview, April 20, 2004
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This review is from: Farther Than Any Man: The Rise and Fall of Captain James Cook (Paperback)
"Farther than Any Man" is a good beginning overview of the remarkable life and career of Captain James Cook, who circumnavigated the world twice, discovered Autralia's Great Barrier Reef as well as Hawaii, and missed discovering Antarctica by 50 miles, all in the 1700s. It reads briskly, which makes it highly suitable for a popular audience. Some of the places Cook visited are only touched on briefly, but overall we get a good idea of what life was like onboard ship and what drove Cook to venture "farther than any man." We see his character develop from shy underling to commanding presence, as he escapes the class politics of England to make the Pacific his personal exploring playground until the tragic downfall of his third voyage. Dugard has obviously visited many of the places that Cook did, but he mercifully confines his narrative to Cook and his time, instead of inserting long, boring personal adventures of the author the way Tony Horwitz did in "Blue Latitudes." Meanwhile, I think Dugard's own book "Into Africa" about Stanley and Livingstone exceeds his Cook book in depth and detail, but I came to this book knowing little of where Cook went or what he did, and I came away with a serviceable knowledge and an appreciation of the man's accomplishments. (One other thing, there is a nice general map of Cook's voyages but I could have used a little more visual detail or a few other maps with it. I would also like to have seen a portait of Cook.)
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GOOD OVERVIEW - WELL WORTH THE READ, October 9, 2004
This review is from: Farther Than Any Man: The Rise and Fall of Captain James Cook (Paperback)
If you are a history buff, amature psychologist, or professional traveler, this book is easly trashed. It's inconsistencies, geography and attempts psychoanalysis are sort of sad. That being said, it is a fine book! Read it for what it is - a nice yard about a real individual who greatly influenced our history and use it as a launch for further, mroe indepth studies of a fastinating man and time. I like the author's style. He is actually readable. There is no attempt to come across as a great historical guru who happened to take World History 101 while in college. I get quite sick of "academics" who just hate for their territory to be tromped on, and their freshman following, who after reading one or two history texts, are experts. Certain reading should be for pure pleasure, other reading for serious study - lets not mix them up. Her we have a book that is a pleasure to read, and we can even learn a bit from it - what more could you want? Buy it. Read it and enjoy. He Martin, lets have some more! Don't let the History Grunts get you down!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All Cap Cook Books - This Is Perfect Start, February 10, 2010
This review is from: Farther Than Any Man: The Rise and Fall of Captain James Cook (Paperback)
I'm a collector of antique and rare books and a nautical historian - - my largest collection is relative to Cook travels. Previous reviews get hung up on the lack of bibliographical compendium at the end, and yes that would be nice for serious scholarly study. However, if the reader is looking for the BEST start to understanding Cook, his background and his history in a concise 288-page book, then this is the place to start. If I was teaching a course on Cook, then this would be the first book I'd have them read - - I finished it in 3 nights and don't consider myself a fast reader. From here you can launch into a very serious study of Cook and branch into Beaglehole, Kippis, the crew journals, Williams, you name if - - if you want. Or you may just be satisfied in that you read a great detailed look at Cook, his background, his travels all set in the backdrop of that time in history. To refute some of the other reviews here, if I was looking for a seriously thick book with a serious scholarly modern-day study on Cook, then I'd look for a seriously thick, 600-page book by someone like David McCoullough. If you want a good read, on Cook, and want to relax and enjoy and get a fantastic start in this period of history - - then this is your place to start.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE STORY OF A MAN WHO MADE THE WORLD HIS OYSTER, August 23, 2003
By A Customer
An engaging biography of Captain James Cook, arguably the greatest explorer ever. The book covers Cook's humble beginnings as an ordinary seaman, his progress up the ranks of the merchant marine and his unlikely ascension to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy. The account of his major voyages is a spellbinding narrative that explains clearly that Cook's contribution to world discovery remains unparalleled.
An excellent history, Farther Than Any Man tells both sides of the Cook story; his cartographic genius--creating maps and charts that remained the standard well in the twentieth century, his unflinching courage and determination, his boundless vision, and his dominating ego that ultimately led to his untimely death in Hawaii.
Farther Than Any Man is a page-turner that you won't be able to put down. Read it, as I did, prior to a trip to New Zealand and the Cook Islands or, perhaps more realistically, next week to learn more about the world we live in.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweeping exploration, intimate portrayal, May 25, 2001
By A Customer
Farther Than Any Man sheds new light on a ubiquitous, if underappreciated name: Cook
Relegated to a line in a textbook and the label of cheap champagne, "Captain Cook" still maintains a toehold in our knowledge, but it took this book to explain why, and why Cook the man should hold a far greater place in our estimation.
Dugard's book is commendable in that he not only narrates with a brawny and active prose, he also brings to life a man who led an extraordinary life. Cook was completely self-made, absolutely driven, more canny and political than I had imagined and yet also possessed of a loyal and loving side.
The accounts of his explorations are gripping, particularly if you know of his grisly end. And the summation of his encounters with the natives of the Pacific are illustrative of the West's dual colonial role of custodians and oppressors.
This is a great book, hugely informative, and I recommend it highly.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where's the Bibliography?, August 6, 2009
This review is from: Farther Than Any Man: The Rise and Fall of Captain James Cook (Paperback)
I was taught in my youth that there are certain minimum standards for a non-fiction work, not the least of which is a specific citation of references. As thorough as Mr. Dugard's research may have been, he has provided no bibliography, notes or references. The lack of a bibliography in a non-fiction work is a most serious failing.

Additionally, as an avid reader of non-fiction, I routinely refer back to prior readings to compare notes with other authors. This work does not even include an index, making it absolutely worthless as a reference work. I don't believe I have ever read a work of history that did not include even a basic index of topics.

Where are the detail maps? How can anyone present a biography of one of history's greatest navigators and cartographers, and include only a single world map depicting the approximate route of his voyages? As I read about explorers, I enjoy tracing their steps in some detail. While reading Mr. Dugan's biography, I found myself constantly referring to various atlases to locate places he refers to. Some of these places have different names now, and I grew increasingly frustrated attempting to find them.

I do not recall the last time I read a biography that did not even include a single portrait of the subject, even one done posthumously. Mr. Dugan actually refers to James Cook sitting for painters, but he fails to include a single image of this great man. In my edition, the back cover of the book does include a portrait of the handsome Mr. Dugan, which adds nothing to my appreciation of his subject.

I understand from the narrative on the back cover that much of Mr. Dugan's account comes from the captain's own journals. But our author fails to provide us any direction for further study. Are these journals published somewhere? Are there multiple editions that may be in conflict with one another? Are Mr. Bank's letters published somewhere?

Mr. Dugan even goes so far as to give us direct quotes, but fails to name the individual quoted (e.g.: pp 17, 21, 22).

Feeling compelled to say something positive about this work, I must say that I failed to find a single typographical error in the entire edition, a refreshing find in the deteriorating world of quality control in today's publishing industry. There is, however, an error in grammar on p. 188 that should have been caught by the editor.

As an entertaining read, I give Mr. Dugan a B-. As a work of non-fiction, I cannot even consider a passing grade. Shame on the Washington Square Press for publishing what is purported to be a non-fiction work without meeting the minimum standards required of an eighth grade essay.
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Farther Than Any Man: The Rise and Fall of Captain James Cook
Farther Than Any Man: The Rise and Fall of Captain James Cook by Martin Dugard (Paperback - July 30, 2002)
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