Captain James Cook's three epic 18th-century explorations of the Pacific Ocean were the last of their kind, literally completing the map of the world. Yet despite his monumental discoveries, principally in the South Pacific, Cook the man has remained an enigma. In retracing key legs of the circumnavigator's journey, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz chronicles the cultural and environmental havoc wrought by the captain's opening of the unspoiled Pacific to the West, as well as the alternately indifferent and passionate reactions Cook's name evokes during the writer's journeys through Polynesia, Australia, the Aleutians, and the explorer's native England. Horwitz skillfully weaves a biography and travel narrative with warm humor that is natural and human-scale, and his restless inquisitiveness quickly infects the reader. While striking dichotomies abound throughout that journey--Maori toughs who adopt Nazi imagery to symbolize their own fight against white domination, millennia-old Polynesian sexual mores that would shame the Reeperbahn, a sense that Christianity decimated native cultures at least as effectively as Western venereal diseases did--few are more poignant than the ones that abound in Cook's own life. This fine work is an adventurous reminder that answers to historical riddles are elusive at best--and seldom as compelling as the myriad new questions they pose. --Jerry McCulley
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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. (Bill Bryson, author of In a Sunburned Country
Tony Horwitz's Blue Latitudes
is one of the best. . . full of humor. . . an elegant running account of Cook's exploits. (The New York Times Book Review (cover review)
A tour de force of evocative history, serious scholarship, and compelling writing. (The Washington Post)
Part Cook biography, part travelogue, and very much a stroke of genius. (The Philadelphia Inquirer
Hilarious, brainy, and balanced. . . .A trip with Horwitz is as good as it gets. (The Charlotte Observer
Tony Horwitz has done it again. . . Keen insight, open-mindedness and laugh-out-loud humor. (San Francisco Chronicle
A staggering blend of historical research, character study, sociological analysis, and intriguing tales of travel. (The Boston Globe
Curiosity, intelligence, compassion and a sense of adventure. . . I love reading Tony Horwitz. (Chicago Tribune
Horwitz succeeds brilliantly in turning the English from stiff icons to flesh-and-blood human beings. The book's constant humor, honesty and judgment recall his own Confederates in the Attic
and Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods.
. . . This book will keep you enthralled. (The Seattle Time