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Madness, Betrayal and the Lash: The Epic Voyage of Captain George Vancouver
     

Madness, Betrayal and the Lash: The Epic Voyage of Captain George Vancouver

5.0 2
by Stephen R. Bown
 

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From 1792 to 1795, George Vancouver sailed the Pacific as the captain of his own expedition — and as an agent of imperial ambition. To map a place is to control it, and Britain had its eyes on America's Pacific coast. And map it Vancouver did. His voyage was one of history’s greatest feats of maritime daring, discovery, and diplomacy, and his marine

Overview


From 1792 to 1795, George Vancouver sailed the Pacific as the captain of his own expedition — and as an agent of imperial ambition. To map a place is to control it, and Britain had its eyes on America's Pacific coast. And map it Vancouver did. His voyage was one of history’s greatest feats of maritime daring, discovery, and diplomacy, and his marine survey of Hawaii and the Pacific coast was at its time the most comprehensive ever undertaken. But just two years after returning to Britain, the 40-year-old Vancouver, hounded by critics, shamed by public humiliation at the fists of an aristocratic sailor he had flogged, and blacklisted because of a perceived failure to follow the Admiralty’s directives, died in poverty, nearly forgotten. In this riveting and perceptive biography, historian Stephen Bown delves into the events that destroyed Vancouver’s reputation and restores his position as one of the greatest explorers of the Age of Discovery.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Though mostly forgotten, the 1791-95 voyage of Capt. George Vancouver and his crew rivaled Columbus and Cook's for long-term impact; Vancouver's painstaking navigation through the uncharted Pacific set the path for modern North Pacific history. Bown (Scurvy, A Most Damnable Invention) provides a thorough, engaging account of a journey remarkable for its time and even more so in retrospect. Essential background information is flawed by excessive foreshadowing, but Bown's vivid account of Vancouver's work-mapping the labyrinthine coast between Northern California and southern Alaska, stopping off in Hawaii and Spanish California-proves fascinating. Plans for the voyage changed repeatedly; the end of the American Revolution, Britain's long rivalry with Spain, the pressure for new trade routes, manipulation by British politicians and fur traders, and the obsession with finding a Northwest Passage made a difficult, vague assignment nearly impossible. The last chapters read like a thriller, as Vancouver's health declines, his relations with the crew sour, and Britain and France go to war. Any fan of the Great Age of Sail, the history of the Royal Navy, or European voyages of exploration will enjoy rediscovering this almost-forgotten hero.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781553653394
Publisher:
D & M Publishers
Publication date:
05/05/2009
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

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Madness, Betrayal and the Lash: The Epic Voyage of Captain George Vancouver 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Richmond-Chambers More than 1 year ago
Little had been written about George Vancouver until Ernie Coleman's excellent and uncomplicated biography in 2000, and Bown's new, detailed and scholarly work in 2008. Bown's work is a re-evaluation of Vancouver's life and work - it's excellent in every respect. And it fills an important gap in 18th century naval history and surveying in North West America. I live where Vancouver spent his last days in Petersham, Richmond, Surrey. We celebrate his life annually at a service in the churchyard where he is buried at St Peter's Church, Petersham. I have also visited beautiful Vancouver and the island, and travelled part of the North West coast of Northern America being married to a Vancouverite. Therefore, I have a special interest and regard for this man and the area he explored! Let's get a few things straight about Vancouver! He was an experienced sailor, having served on the last voyage of Captain Cook as a midshipman. However, Vancouver was not an experienced diplomat, but his record as Master and Captain of HMS Discovery from 1792-5 was very good for the times. Only one person died during the voyages and I can see from Bown's work that Vancouver cared for his men although he had an inexperienced crew and some malevolent officers including Sir Joseph Banks, the aristocrat Thomas Pitt, and the ship's surgeon. You can't do much against this sort of list! Vancouver's reputation was shattered and he died alone with little money on the completion of his surveys and diaries at the age of 40. Our services in Petersham over the 25 years I have attended are often sad occasions for me as I reflect on his life during the commemorations. Bown's book is one of the best I have read for ages about this unpleasant period of British naval history when Captain Vancouver's name and contribution were smeared ... and he vindicates him. It is a well researched and referenced book with many recorded stories which give light onto the problems of the times. And one gets the feeling of the period with this book brilliantly. It has 13 chapters in 4 parts plus great photographs which delve into substantial detail with a splendid list of sources and a bibliography at the back. Bown paints Pitt, in particular, as the baddie (rightly) with few redeeming features, and he exposes the aristocratic establishment of the time hard for their unjust behaviour towards Vancouver. I would probably not liked to have served under Vancouver as I can see some of the leadership problems he had to deal with - challenging behaviour from senior officers is difficult at the best of times, and I've had my fair share of them in the past. However, I have a tremendous regard for George Vancouver which remains strengthened by Bown's biography, ending with this tribute: "He accomplished great things and, as our historical and cultural ancestor, he deserves a greater place in our collective memory." He just got it here from Stephen Bown! So thank you very much Mr Bown from an admirer where Vancouver now rests.
Superior_Shores More than 1 year ago
After visiting Vancouver Island and the Coty of Vancouver, I wanted to know more about this beautiful area. This book is captivating and the conclusion fascinating. I learned so much about this hero and surveyor of the Pacific Northwest coastline. It is a sad story about an inept government system bent on self-destruction and about a man who followed the letter of the law to a "T" and received only rebuke upon his return several years later. After reading this book I just had to download more about the exploration of this area. A must read for history buffs!