Endeavour: The Ship That Changed the World is the story behind the humble little ship that is best remembered as the ship that took Captain James Cook on his first major journey of exploration. A humble collier (ship that carried coal), with many lives and many names, as Endeavour she circumnavigated the globe, survived coral reefs, and mapped New Zealand.
In his book, Peter Moore goes into carefully researched and detailed accounts of not only the building of Endeavour (first called (Earl of Pembroke) but also the Age of Enlightenment in which it was built and how that affected many of her crew: scientists and naturalists like Dr Solander and Joseph Banks (students of Carl Linnaeus) and Navy man James Cook himself. While the bulk of the book is spent on Cook's voyage Moore also gives fascinating details behind Endeavour's final incarnation: as the Earl of Sandwich bringing Hessian troops across the Atlantic and serving as a prison galley off of Newport during the American Revolution.
Quotes from letters, Navy lists, and journal entries bring each of Endeavour's incarnations into vivid life and Moore's detailed accounts do a fantastic job of making the reader feel as if they are a part of the crew, sharing the triumphs and terrors along with the sailors. Moore also does an excellent job of recognizing Endeavour as the symbol for so many of imperialism and conquest, and he pulls no punches in acknowledging the death and destruction European explorers in general, and Endeavour in particular, brought to the Pacific Islands, Australia, and New Zealand.
It did take me about a hundred pages to really get into Endeavour. Moore begins his study of the ship from acorn on, including studies of the variety of oaks in England and which ones were considered best for ship building, the history of the little town of Whitby where Endeavour was first built, the lives of the men behind her design and construction, and even the Enlightenment-era thinking behind the term "endeavour" itself. All of which was very interesting in small doses- but Moore reached virtually James Michener level details from beginning on for each of these subjects. Once things got going and Endeavour was out to sea the book picked up pace. Full of interesting facts on the science, philosophy, politics, and maritime history of the age, Endeavour: The Ship That Changed the World is an excellent read for history lovers, those interested in exploration, and maritime history.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review