In Cook's relatively short and adventurous life (1728-79) he voyaged to the eastern and western seaboards of North America, the North and South Pacific and the Arctic and Antarctic bringing about a new comprehension of the world's geography and its people's. He was the linking figure between the grey specualtion of the early eighteenth century and the industrial age of the first half of the nineteenth century.
Richard Hough's biography is full of new insights and interpretations of one of the world's greatest mariners.
Image © National Maritime Museum, London
Is James Cook to be best understood as an explorer and scholar or an agent of European imperialism? This comprehensive biography by a noted writer of popular maritime history tells Cook's story without taking much of a stand. Even as a junior naval officer, his abilities secured him one key appointment after another on exploration and survey expeditions between 1763 and 1779. Hough emphasizes the importance for military, commercial and scientific purposes of the accurate charts and maps produced by Cook. Anthropological investigations were by-products of Cook's usual primary missions. A mixture of arrogance and innocence led him to ignore signs of increasing friction between British sailors and Pacific islanders. His death by stoning at the hands of Hawaiian warriors on Feb. 14, 1779, heralded the end of the Age of Reconnaissance in the Pacific and the beginning of an age of conquest. Illustrations.