Tony Horwitz (Baghdad Without a Map, One for the Road, Confederates in the Attic) is an unrivaled practitioner of how-it-should-be-done exploration and adventure writing, and his stirring chronicle of voyaging and visiting along Captain James Cook's pioneering routes will fire up landlocked readers. Cook's three voyages of the 1770s were the greatest and most challenging attempts ever undertaken to discover and map the nondum cognita (not yet known) world: the imagined Great Southern Continent, the Pacific archipelagos, and (almost an afterthought) the Northeast Passage.
Horwitz provides a rousing tale of modern-day exploration as he and his volunteer shipmates endure the rigors and hardships of the voyage on a replica of Cook's ship, calling to mind the best that adventure literature has to offer. But he does much more. With keen insight, he examines the profound impact of Cook's appearance -- unavoidably, as an advance man for British imperial and commercial interests -- on the native peoples of New Zealand, Australia, and other homelands. Along the way he provides an engrossing consideration of intrusion and memory; of change and loss of identity; of displacement and the problems of adaptation. The indigenous social and economic entities of Cook's day are long gone; Horwitz examines the degree to which the successor arrangements -- so often dominated by the United States or European powers -- have proved to be both destructive and unrewarding. He lets the locals speak, and they have much to say that's painful to hear. This book is a winner, and the excellent source notes open a welcome door to the always engaging Cook literature. Peter Skinner