In the more than two hundred years since his death, Cook's reputation has been much discussed, opinion ranging from celebration of his achievement to more subjective assessments of the long-term implications of his voyages in those countries of the Pacific which he visited.
The thirteen essays in this book, grouped in four sections, continue the debate. 'The Years in England' cover Cook's Whitby background and the part played by the Royal Society in the Pacific ventures of the period. 'The Pacific Voyages' investigates the clash between the Endeavour's crew and the Aborigines on the banks of the Endeavour River, the process by which Cook and his crews became 'Polynesianised', Cook's visit to the Hawaiian Islands, and his call at Nootka Sound, both on his final voyage.
'Captain Cook and his Contemporaries' views other European explorers in the Pacific, and concludes with an analysis of Russian attitudes towards Cook. 'The Legacy of Captain Cook' compares Cook's death on Hawaii with the later killing of a missionary on Eromanga, examines fluctuations in Cook's reputation, and describes life on board the replica of the Endeavour.
GLYNDWR WILLIAMS is Emeritus Professor of History, Queen Mary & Westfield College, University of London. His many books include an edition of Captain Cook's Voyages, 1768-79, from the official accounts derived from Cook's journals.
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