Cover image for In search of Captain Cook : exploring the man through his own words
In search of Captain Cook : exploring the man through his own words
Publication Information:
London ; New York : I.B. Tauris ; New York : Distributed in the USA by Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
Physical Description:
263 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
Personal Subject:


Material Type
Shelf Number
Book G246.C7O88 2008 1

On Order



Captain James Cook was the greatest explorer of his age, perhaps of any age. He was a leader of men, a master voyager who journeyed to unknown places, a seeker of knowledge who commanded three demanding scientific expeditions. He and his crews had encounters with peoples of the South Seas which could lead to mutual respect and trade, but also to misunderstanding and violence. Even before he died his exploits were widely admired. But his death at the hands of Hawaiians turned him into a legendary figure, a hero of the Enlightenment, who was said to have brought "civilization" to the Pacific while giving up his own life in the process. Yet despite everything that is known about Cook's life and many adventures, the man himself remains shrouded in mystery. With this book, Dan O'Sullivan seeks to put this right and casts vivid light on Cook's character, teasing out his personality from the pages of his own journals. As well as an original and illuminating re-examination of Cook's complex character, this is also a vivid introduction to his life and times which is essential reading for anyone with an interest in this incomparable sea-captain.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

While many scholars are aware of the voyages of exploration made by Captain James Cook in the latter decades of the 18th century, few know very much about the man himself, his personality, or his motivations. O'Sullivan seeks to fill in some of those gaps by using Cook's journals or ship's logs as well as other primary source materials and excerpts them throughout. He also gives readers more general information about the world in Cook's time, English society, the British Navy, and the regions that Cook explored. The result is a blend of primary source material, history, geography, anthropology, and analysis, all coming together to make Cook and his world more accessible. In particular, O'Sullivan cautions readers to refrain from projecting contemporary knowledge and value systems onto those who lived in past eras. Falling into that trap tends to blur the view into the past, as well as distort it. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. D. M. Hall Lake Erie College

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. vii
Prefacep. viii
Introductionp. 1
1 Cook the Unknownp. 4
Timeline of the First Voyagep. 17
Part I The Journalsp. 25
2 Entertaining the Readerp. 27
3 Bookmakersp. 36
4 Journals as Historyp. 48
5 Journals as Narrativep. 61
Part II Cook's Relations with his Colleaguesp. 71
Timeline of the Second Voyagep. 73
6 The Ships' Companies: Officersp. 82
7 The Ships' Companies: Menp. 90
8 Men of Sciencep. 99
9 Health Among Seamenp. 111
Part III Cook's Relations with Pacific Islandersp. 121
10 How to Study Nativesp. 123
11 How to Treat Nativesp. 136
12 Natives Cook Knewp. 147
13 Sex in the South Seasp. 161
Part IV Assumptions, Ambitions, Achievementsp. 175
14 Cook and Divine Providencep. 177
15 Nation and Empirep. 187
16 Trade and Improvementp. 196
17 Science and Navigationp. 206
Timeline of the Third Voyagep. 215
18 The Death of Cookp. 223
Conclusionp. 230
Abbreviations used in Referencesp. 234
Referencesp. 236
Suggested Readingp. 255
Indexp. 257