Rarely have the heroic endeavours of Captain James Cook been accorded a biographical odyssey that can match the ambition of Tony Horwitz's Into the Blue; this is an epic treatment of an epic subject. More than the picture of a remarkable and enigmatic personality, this is a panoply of an age of exploration and adventure.
The three dangerous voyages that he undertook between 1768 and 1779 were unquestionably daunting for Cook and his covoyagers, but they also signified the final glorious flowering of the voyages of discovery across the surface of the planet. Cook had the distinction of discovering more of the far-flung corners of the earth than any of his predecessors. From Tahiti to Siberia, from the mysteries of Easter Island to the exotic dangers of the Great Barrier Reef, Cook and his crew brought back to the "civilised" world news of some of the most shocking aspects of the human condition and as Horwitz reports, "people listened agog to his descriptions of the horrors of cannibalism and ritualistic sexual excess."
But who was Captain James Cook? To create a complex picture of a complex man, the author revisited the exotic corners of the world that Cook had discovered, and the author's own adventures are described with maximum vividness. A picture emerges of Cook as a driven man who abandoned the tedium of farm life and Georgian London to search out strange new worlds (the jacket blurb even--bizarrely--quotes Star Trek's famous split infinitive: "Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before"). Told with as much humour as turbulent excitement, Into the Blue is a passport to a mesmerising voyage into the life of an intriguing figure. --Barry Forshaw
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'Playful but never flippant, meticulously researched and occasionally moving, this is an unusual take on the legacy of an enigmatic captain ... it remains a fresh and likeable attempt to boldly go where few biographers have gone before' Daily Telegraph