on April 5, 2001
This well prepared abridged edition of Captain James Cook's journals is a specialized book of interest to people studying the exploration of the Pacific and/or the British Navy of that time period. Other people might find sections of it dry reading. The book is recommended for oceanography students as the 17th century voyages of exploration formed the basis for later oceanographic cruises.
Cook's voyages carried scientific personnel of that time period, many of whom died from the harsh conditions along with members of the crews. In addition to bad weather, there were diseases and hostile natives (including cannibals). Extensive charting was carried out and, on the second voyage, the Board of Longitude supplied Cook with Larcum Kendall's copy of John Harrison's H4 watch for determining longitude. Observations were made of prevailing winds, currents, temperature, and other things of scientific interest.
Natives throughout the Pacific would go to great lengths to obtain iron, expecially axes, even prostituting their wives and daughters (willing or not). Natives would attempt to steal items, if they could, leading to numerous confrontations including one in which a boat crew of the Adventure (the consort ship of the second voyage) were killed and eaten by the Maori natives of New Zealand.
Cook's journal ended several weeks before his death. The editor fills in details from journals of other people who were on the voyage, and speculates on the reason he was killed by the natives in Hawaii.
The book includes maps of Cook's routes on his voyages. It also has an index listing the names of the various individuals mentioned, with an indication of their positions on the voyages or their other positions if they were not active participants.
on December 31, 2012
I bought this book for my Husband for Christmas, as he is a big History buff; esp. on the diaries of Captain Cook. We have spent several winters on the Hawaiian Islands, so his curiousity started there. He picked this book from the Amazon site. I was a bit skeptical when it arrived at the large volume of work, and the small print. Let's just say it is one week after Christmas, and he has not put it down!! He is on cloud 9! Highly recommended!!