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The Journals of Captain Cook (Penguin Classics) Paperback – Abridged, April 1, 2000
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A principal source for understanding European exploration of the Pacific in the eighteenth century. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW The most important book ever written about Cook. IAN BOREHAM, THE CAPTAIN COOK STUDY UNIT. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
James Cook (1728-1779) was an English explorer, navigator and cartographer. He made three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, accurately charting many areas and recording several islands and coastlines on European maps for the first time.
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Top customer reviews
The good: includes journals of all three voyages.
The bad: some bits are left out (condensed). Cook's (mis-)spellings takes some getting used to, but adds some fun flavor to the reading. Stops very precipitously at the end in Hawaii (no Editor's notes about the events after).
For a more entertaining and readable (better spelled) account (of the first voyage only), I recommend "The Endeavor Journal" by Sir Joseph Banks. Or if you're a true die hard like me, I found reading Cook's jounal, then Banks' journal, then "A Voyage to the South Sea" by William Bligh to be a very pleasing sequence.
Cook's voyages carried scientific personnel of that time period, many of whom died from the harsh conditions along with members of the crews. In addition to bad weather, there were diseases and hostile natives (including cannibals). Extensive charting was carried out and, on the second voyage, the Board of Longitude supplied Cook with Larcum Kendall's copy of John Harrison's H4 watch for determining longitude. Observations were made of prevailing winds, currents, temperature, and other things of scientific interest.
Natives throughout the Pacific would go to great lengths to obtain iron, expecially axes, even prostituting their wives and daughters (willing or not). Natives would attempt to steal items, if they could, leading to numerous confrontations including one in which a boat crew of the Adventure (the consort ship of the second voyage) were killed and eaten by the Maori natives of New Zealand.
Cook's journal ended several weeks before his death. The editor fills in details from journals of other people who were on the voyage, and speculates on the reason he was killed by the natives in Hawaii.
The book includes maps of Cook's routes on his voyages. It also has an index listing the names of the various individuals mentioned, with an indication of their positions on the voyages or their other positions if they were not active participants. While the index mentions the later careers of a few individuals like William Bligh, it makes no mention of John Gore's career (he is listed in the Wikipedia as having died in 1790).
Midway through the second voyage, there's sort of a creepy turning point where Cook seems to lose some of his acumen, treats islanders with viciousness, and brutalizes his own men for offenses as minor as refusing to drink a vulgar sort of birch beer.
Being an unlearned man, Cook writes with an openness and ease that is uncommon in 18th century British lit. His iffy spelling is kept somewhat intact in this version, which slows it down a bit, but if nothing else, gives you a feel for how words sounded in the ear of a Regency-era farmer's son.
Most recent customer reviews
It is a lot of daily journal entries about the weather.Read more