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Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before [NOOK Book]

Overview



In an exhilarating tale of historic adventure, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Confederates in the Attic retraces the voyages of Captain James Cook, the Yorkshire farm boy who drew the map of the modern world

Captain James Cook's three epic journeys in the 18th century were the last great voyages of discovery. His ships sailed 150,000 miles, from the Artic to the Antarctic, from Tasmania to Oregon, from Easter Island to Siberia. When ...
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Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before

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Overview



In an exhilarating tale of historic adventure, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Confederates in the Attic retraces the voyages of Captain James Cook, the Yorkshire farm boy who drew the map of the modern world

Captain James Cook's three epic journeys in the 18th century were the last great voyages of discovery. His ships sailed 150,000 miles, from the Artic to the Antarctic, from Tasmania to Oregon, from Easter Island to Siberia. When Cook set off for the Pacific in 1768, a third of the globe remained blank. By the time he died in Hawaii in 1779, the map of the world was substantially complete.
Tony Horwitz vividly recounts Cook's voyages and the exotic scenes the captain encountered: tropical orgies, taboo rituals, cannibal feasts, human sacrifice. He also relives Cook's adventures by following in the captain's wake to places such as Tahiti, Savage Island, and the Great Barrier Reef to discover Cook's embattled legacy in the present day. Signing on as a working crewman aboard a replica of Cook's vessel, Horwitz experiences the thrill and terror of sailing a tall ship. He also explores Cook the man: an impoverished farmboy who broke through the barriers of his class and time to become the greatest navigator in British history.
By turns harrowing and hilarious, insightful and entertaining, BLUE LATITUDES brings to life a man whose voyages helped create the 'global village' we know today.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
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

Bill Bryson
Blue Latitudes is thoroughly enjoyable. No writer has better captured the heroic enigma that was Captain James Cook than Tony Horwitz in this amiable and enthralling excursion around the Pacific.
Caroline Alexander
Horwitz's adventures pay illuminating tribute to the great navigator — to Captain Cook himself and to his intrepid eighteenth-century colleagues, including the improbably attractive Sir Joseph Banks. But most of all Blue Latitudes offers clear-eyed, vivid, and highly entertaining reassurance that there are still outlandish worlds to be discovered.
Nathaniel Philbrick
Blue Latitudes is a rollicking read that is also a sneaky work of scholarship, providing new and unexpected insights into the man who out-discovered Columbus. A terrific book — I inhaled it in one weekend.
Outside Magazine
Tony Horwitz has written about oddball history buffs before . . . this time he becomes one himself . . . The author sets off island-hopping across the South Pacific in the wake of Cook’s Endeavor producing some classically absurd Horwitzian scenes . . . But there are sobering moments too; Horwitz finds many islands in the grip of a fierce anticolonialism, with Cook as convenient lightning rod.
Forbes
Imagine you're an editor at a book publishing firm, and a writer comes to you with the idea of traveling to Seat-tle, Tahiti, Bora Bora, New Zealand, Australia, Tonga, England, Alaska and Hawaii in search of Captain Cook, the ex-plorer who charted and helped to "discover" about a third of the planet a little over 200 years ago. He wouldn't be able to say who he was going to interview at any given place, because for the most part, he wouldn't know yet. Instead, he would take things as they came, asking strangers if they knew about Cook, and if so, what they thought of him. He'd follow one lead to another, do a lot of reading, attend some Cook-related festivities, visit some monuments and write a funny, thought-provoking travelogue cum biography of the great explorer.

I'd say no. It's a sad day for the guy who embarks on such a vague, unruly quest. It's like renting a Zil in St. Pe-tersburg and setting out to "find" Russia. But somebody at Henry Holt and Company said yes to Pulitzer-winning war correspondent Tony Horwitz and by golly, they were right to do so. Who better to search for the legacy of Captain Cook than the reporter who wrote an acclaimed book about the Civil War, Confederates in the Attic, by schlepping around the South for a year interviewing reenactors? With prodigious research and a willingness to raise the subject of Captain Cook with anyone, including a drunk, a king and a girl in a wet T-shirt, Horwitz has managed to muscle a big, sloppy idea into something coherent and fun to read.

Granted, it takes him 450 pages.

He starts his journey with some frontline experience, pressing himself into service on the Endeavour, a working replica of the beamy,flat-bottomed ship Cook sailed on the first of his three voyages. Sea travel 18th-century style turns out to be as grueling and degrading as one would expect. The spaces are cramped, the officers are mean bas-tards and the work is backbreaking. Horwitz only crews for a week, which hardly compares to an eight-month passage from Plymouth to Tahiti, but he paints a vivid picture of life on that wobbly tub, plying along for months at a time with-out sight of land or a bite of fruit.

That trial endured, Horwitz heads to Australia, his base of operations for hopping to points Cook-related all over the Pacific. In alternating passages, he describes the wonders Cook found on various virgin shores, then reports on the state of each place today. One shudders to imagine the original Endeavour's arrival at Tahiti in 1769, when Cook's sex-starved, syphilitic sailors were loosed on that verdant island's girls, who were pretty, generally naked and willing to trade their favors for a nail. (Cook had a serious nail theft problem.) Hospitality doesn't come so cheap in Ta-hiti today--a rental car goes for about $100 a day and the bikini babes are standoffish. But even though the Tahiti of the 18th century is long gone, overrun by sailors, missionaries, French colonialists and tourists, Horwitz manages to find traces of the place Cook described in his journal. He sees the island's libertinism, so so shocking to the captain, on rau-cous display at a transvestite club, and he meets a group of teenagers who are as laid-back and starry-eyed as the Tahi-tians Cook met 200 years ago.

Whenever he can, Horwitz tries to create a Cook-like sense of discovery. He prepares for his visit to an island nation called Niue, a tiny speck between Tahiti and Tonga, by not learning anything about it. All he knows is that when Cook arrived there in 1774, he was confronted by an angry group of men whose mouths were stained a bloody shade of red, which compelled the captain to dub the place "Savage Island" before blowing out on the next gust.

Brief as that encounter was, Horwitz discovers, Niue's inhabitants are still trying to erase the spot it put on their reputation, particularly the widespread assumption that the red stuff was human blood. Was it, as the natives today con-tend, the smeared flesh of a local species of red banana? If so, why can't anyone show Horwitz a red banana tree? Pre-sented with a quirky little conflict like this, Horwitz is in his element. He dashes around the island asking about ba-nanas, and discovers all sorts of other secrets along the way. Niue is an offshore tax haven--just $385 a year to register a company--and despite the religiosity of its inhabitants, a major hub for telephone sex chat lines. It even has what ap-pears to be a sham medical school. To watch Horwitz, the star reporter, unravel that island like a ball of twine is pure pleasure. The Niuens are glad to see him leave.

As for his spot surveying, Horwitz finds that Captain Cook is many different things to many different people. To the Hawaiians who chopped him up and barbecued him in 1779, he was a god, and to many history buffs he still is. Yet in New Zealand, the native Maori see him as a villain, as do most natives of the places he visited. In Australia, Horwitz says Cook is being written out of history as an act of atonement to the wronged aborigines. The girl in the wet T-shirt has but a tentative grip on his character. "He'd think I was a complete lunatic," she says. Strangely enough, the man who still elicits such passion was remarkably rational and coolheaded himself, temper tantrums notwithstanding. If anything, Horwitz reveals the most about Cook by acting like Cook, exploring each place with the same energy and relentless curiosity as the man himself. A lesser writer would have gotten lost out there in the big blue, then chopped up and barbecued by book reviewers. Not Horwitz. He has one-upped Cook and made it home in one piece.
—Thomas Jackson

Library Journal
Journalist Horwitz, who is fascinated by James Cook and is convinced the world has underestimated his achievements, follows the explorer's three ventures into what was at that time the vast unknown. Signing on as a crew member for a Cook ship simile cruise, he experiences firsthand the life of an 18th-century sailor and becomes completely captivated with Cook's accomplishments. Subsequently, Horwitz and an Australian friend take more contemporary transportation to visit the captain's English home and the faraway places with strange sounding names that he opened to the world. The author slips easily from explaining history, Cook's personality, and life to describing his own modern-day experiences delving into Cook's past. Some details of late 1700s shipboard discipline, sexual lifestyles, and Cook's death and dismemberment are probably too grisly for most young listeners. Despite a few too many searches for and visits with the odds and ends of people (from bartenders to a king) who claim to have some affiliation with Cook, the book is interesting and educational. Daniel Gerroll is well spoken and does accents and other voices very nicely. For history and travel buffs interested in Australia, the South Pacific, and seafaring; generally recommended for adult and college collections.-Carolyn Alexander, Brigadoon Lib., Corral de Tierra, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Pulitzer-winning journalist and travel-writer Horwitz (Confederates in the Attic, 1998, etc.), dogging the wake of Captain Cook, discerningly braids Cook's long-ago perceptions with his own present-day inquiries into the lands the Captain encountered. Cook made three epic voyages, sailing from Antarctica to the Arctic, from Australia to Alaska, and to many of the islands that lie between. Fascinated by the man and his accomplishments, Horwitz visits those far-flung lands where the impact of Cook's arrival was more profound and lasting than the news of the lands' existence was upon the Europeans back home. The author travels by sailboat and ferry, often in the company of his Australian chum Roger, an odd-fellow and contrarian of rare stripe who adds a comic counterpoint to Horwitz's probings into attitudes toward Cook in the places he set anchor-attitudes that run the gamut from loathing to reverence. Natives for the most part revile him, though it's a quirk of fate that the captain's logs are now helping New Zealand's Maori establish land claims. Horwitz's portraits of the lands can be dispiriting: Bora Bora on the brink of environmental collapse, Tahiti gripped by ennui, Tonga feudal with feudal squalor and ill temper. But there are also innocent Niue and vibrant Hawaii and Australia-where Cook is sooner forgotten by all concerned. Of the navigator himself, Horwitz says that "his journals allow us to chart almost every one of his steps and sails, right down the minutest degree of latitude. But [he] left us no map to his own soul." Still, he rises from these pages as a thoughtful and humane character sensitive to the men who served him and to the local populations he met, though "mutualincomprehension over notions of property and justice [plagued him] throughout his Pacific voyages" and in fact led to his death. Tandem voyages taken 200 years apart: filled with history and alive with contrasts.
From the Publisher
"Blue Latitudes is a rollicking read that is also a sneaky work of scholarship, providing new and unexpected insights into the man who out-discovered Columbus. A terrific book—I inhaled it in one weekend." —Nathaniel Philbrick, author of In the Heart of the Sea
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429969574
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/2003
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 107,710
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.87 (d)
  • File size: 927 KB

Meet the Author

Tony Horwitz

Tony Horwitz is the bestselling author of Midnight Rising, A Voyage Long and Strange, Blue Latitudes, Confederates in the Attic, and Baghdad Without a Map. He is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has worked for The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker. He lives in Martha's Vineyard with his wife, Geraldine Brooks, and their two sons.

Biography

On a ferry into Beirut that had just squeaked past several rounds of Syrian cannon fire, a fellow traveler commended Tony Horwitz for being jusqu'au boutiste, or "right to the edge" -- explaining that "It mean you are very brave. And maybe very stupid." As a former Wall Street Journal reporter and current New Yorker staff writer, Horwitz has gone places most of us are either not brave -- or stupid -- enough to venture to, and returned with a collection of absorbing, affecting, often hilarious tales set in locales from the Sudan to the American South.

Horwitz's intercontinental roamings started when he married fellow reporter Geraldine Brooks and followed her to her native Australia. His first book, One for the Road, recounts his adventures hitchhiking across the Australian Outback. When Brooks got an assignment as a foreign correspondent in Cairo in 1987, Horwitz went along, looking for the kind of quirky feature stories that as a freelance writer he might sell to editors back in the States. His second book, Baghdad Without a Map, zings around the Middle East, from a qat-chewing party in Yemen to a leper colony in Sudan, from the aforementioned ferry ride to an almost equally terrifying flight on Egyptair. It was a national bestseller, praised by The New York Times Book Review as "a very funny and frequently insightful look at the world's most combustible region."

After moving to Virginia in 1993, Horwitz embarked on a different kind of travel, producing another bestseller. Confederates in the Attic describes his journey across the South and his quest to understand the impact of the Civil War on contemporary America. He meets "hardcore" reenacters who soak brass buttons in urine for just the right patina, earnest Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy, drunken biker Klansmen, and even a few ordinary people who happen to live south of the Mason-Dixon line. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called the book "Good natured and generously funny: moving, chilling, and beautiful."

Horwitz then returned to world travel, this time spurred by an obsession with the eighteenth-century explorer Captain James Cook. For Blue Latitudes, Horwitz visits the islands charted by Cook, intertwining his own travel narrative with the life and writings of the once-famous captain. "Despite the historical focus, Horwitz doesn't stray too far from the encounters with everyday people that gave his previous books such zest," Publishers Weekly noted in a starred review.

Though Horwitz is the kind of breezy, pithy writer who "could make a book on elevators interesting" (The Philadelphia Inquirer), critics seem to agree that his genius is for getting to know people on his travels. Whether he's chatting with a Yemeni arms dealer, a Confederate widow or the King of Tonga, Horwitz likes "to get inside the heads of those I'm writing about by sharing their experiences," as he said in an interview on his publisher's Web site. "The same goes for history: while I wouldn't pretend that I can know what it was to be a Civil War soldier or a sailor aboard one of Cook's ships, I can try to get a better understanding of it." Those of us who aren't so jusqu'au boutiste can improve our understanding simply by turning Horwitz's highly entertaining pages.

Good To Know

The hardest part of researching Blue Latitudes, Horwitz said in a History House interview, was working aboard a replica of Cook's first ship, the Endeavour. "[It] was a challenge, to say the least, to find myself atop the 127-foot main mast, in heavy seas, trying to furl sails. It was like lifting weights while being shaken from the top of a very tall tree."

Before becoming a journalist, Horwitz worked for a pulpwood haulers' union in Mississippi. He produced a television documentary about the experience, "Mississippi Wood."

Horwitz was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for a Wall Street Journal series on working conditions in low-wage jobs.

His wife, Geraldine Brooks, was also a Wall Street Journal reporter before she began writing fiction. The two live in Virginia with their son, Nathaniel.

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    1. Hometown:
      Waterford, Virginia
    1. Date of Birth:
      1958
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      B.A., Brown University; M.A., Columbia University School of Journalism

Read an Excerpt


From Blue Latitudes:
I studied the application for a berth on His Majesty's Bark Endeavour. An Australian foundation had built a replica of Cook's first vessel and dispatched it around the globe in the navigator's path. At each port, the ship's professional crew took on volunteers to help sail the next leg and experience life as eighteenth-century sailors. This seemed the obvious place to start; if I was going to understand Cook's travels, I first had to understand how he traveled.
The application asked about my "qualifications and experience."
"Have you had any blue water ocean sailing experience?"
"Can you swim 50 meters fully clothed?"
"You will be required to work aloft, sometimes at night in heavy weather. Are you confident of being able to do this?"
I wasn't sure what was meant by "blue water ocean." Did it come in other colors? I'd never swum clothed; as for working aloft, I'd climbed ladders to scoop leaves from my gutter. I checked "yes" next to each question.
But the last query gave me pause. "Do you suffer from sea sickness?"
Only when I went to sea.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 31 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2006

    In my top 5 favorite books.

    This is in my top 5 list of favorite books!! It is fascinating, funny at times, and informative.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2005

    Disconnection

    Horwitz fails to draw the reader into his book. In an attempt to prevent it from becoming a history book he slaps in his 'adventures' between Cook passages. By doing this the reader never gets a great taste of Cook or Horwitz. Furthermore, Horwitz seems overly critical of every island he comes to. He almost whines like a child when he finds the islands aren't like they were 200+ years ago, what did he expect? His blind love for Cook prevents him from presenting anything negative against Cook. When something rises, he quickly shoots it down with arguments that are very shaky.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2012

    Perfectly Written

    Rarely does an author take you to a place well enough so your sense can imagine the sites, sounds and smells. Horwitz has done that in this fantastic story of following Captain Cook through his highs and his lows. Horwitz takes the reader there only because he's been there first hand.
    If you read one book on Captain Cook and the voyages of discovery in the Pacific Ocean, this is the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2003

    A voyage through past and present

    Tony Horwitz takes us through a fantastic voyage cleverly interwoven through past and present by following Captain Cook's explorations. The book is well researched, most entertaining and reveals just how much of a true environmentalist Mr. Horwitz is at heart. While I personally met him at a booksigning this summer in Buzzards Bay, MA. I can attest to the fact that he is the most delightful story-teller in person as well as through his writing. A really interesting book and a 'good read.'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2003

    Entertaining with a Buffet style

    I read the whole book in one weekend while deployed here in Iraq. I wish all history was this entertaining to read. I will gladly read all Horwitz works while here. My next read will be 'Baghdad Without a Map'; hopefully this will provide some insight to the region I am currently occupying

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2003

    Cookaholics International

    I confess, I'm obsessed by Captain Cook's legacy. I've followed him from Antarctica to Alaska, even volunteering as docent on board Endeavour's replica ship. Blue Latitudes confirmed and enriched my experiences. Scholarship and adventure make irresistable reading. I read slowly to savor the flavor.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2002

    A great biography/travel log... I could not put it down

    I grew up in Hawaii, so of course I'd heard of Captain Cook, and have even visited Kealakekua Bay several times. I first heard about this book on NPR, and immediately took a detour from my errands to find it. It was well worth it. Tony Horwitz traces the three voyages of James Cook, an amazing man who accurately charted one third of the planet, and manages not only to capture Captain Cook the explorer, but also Cook the man. Most fascinating for me was the attitudes of the peoples and cultures Cook encountered, both then and now. Is James Cook the villain, who is responsible for all the ills the cultures suffered at the hands of European expansion? Or was he at the very least, the most open-minded of the European "invaders", concerned for the effect his crew and others to come would have on the native peoples? These attitudes seem colored by both the prevailing culture (the warlike stance of the Maoris of New Zealand, or the more pacifistic view of the Aborigines of Australia) and the PR (sometimes false) generated by Cook's previous biographers. Regardless, James Cook was a complex man, who made questionable choices, particularly on his last voyage. Tony Horwitz' clear, easy writing style brings the Pacific regions... from Polynesia, Antarctica, and the Pacific northwest... and their people to life, often with great humor and great sympathy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2014

    Great Author and book!!

    Enjoyed it very much and learned a great deal of history and geography

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2013

    Tallstar

    Tallstar padded in "ready"

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2013

    Great book...quick read

    Great book for any Cook fan!

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  • Posted February 1, 2013

    Wonderful history with insight and humor

    An excellent comparison between a long ago voyage and the repeat in modern times.
    Anyone interested in Captain Cook, history and that part of the world would be enthralled.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2012

    Dawn to mastiff

    Go to the book that says blue eyes better.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2012

    Masstiff

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2012

    WAT DOES LATIDTIDUEE MEQN!!!!

    HELP ME MAKAYLA JANELLE TAYLOR

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2011

    A great romp!

    Humor, History and Travel Adventure all in one place. Horwitz takes you there and reflects on the man Capt. Cook became during his three Pacific voyages. Loved it! Couldn't put it down! Fun and insightful.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2003

    Entertaining and Educational!

    I read this book for a class and thought it would be a typical biography. It was the exact opposite. The author gives you a picture of what Cook's travels were like and what the lands he traveled are like now with the author's personal experiences. Excellent writing and very enjoyable to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2003

    One great and entertaining read

    This is an example of melding travel writing and biography into a very enjoyable trip of time travel. Thoughly entertaining and always full of interesting observations, and maybe at it's best when discussing Cook's travels and the hardships. This book is just full of many great moments. I highly recommend this to anyone who has enjoyed Bill Bryson's books or even Paul Theroux who is still the best at this format.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2002

    Entertaining history book

    Just finished reading this book. Although I do like history books filled with just facts, the author makes the usually boring factual story (i.e., history) very fascinating and approachable by weaving his own experiences & thoughts about the subject. It's a pretty well researched work, and I can't wait to read another of his book like this in the near future!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews

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