As such, all writers coming after Beaglehole, including this reviewer, draw extensively from his works.
However, Beaglehole did not get everything right, missed some things and his coverage of Cook's life before the Pacific is not nearly as good as the Pacific part. Later writers have also taken Beaglehole to task for some of his interpretations, for example his negative attitude to Johann Reinhold Forster. Anyone attempting a new biography, therefore, has a daunting task in front of him or her, given Beaglehole has covered most things.
What could or should we expect from such a new work? New information for a start not available to earlier writers; and new perspectives or interpretations of existing information assuming a better understanding of past events now exists.
Captain Cook: Master of the Seas Paperback – September 25, Foremost among these explorers was navigator and cartographer Captain James Cook of the British Royal Navy. In this authentic, engrossing biography, Frank McLynn reveals Cook's place in history as a brave and. In Captain Cook, McLynn re-creates the voyages that took the famous men with whom he served, Cook was master of the seas and nothing less than a titan.
So does McLynn offer either of these in his book? Sadly, the answer is a loud no.
As stated above McLynn is the author of many books already. His Wikipedia entry calls him an author and journalist, so he knows how to write, and this book is very readable, flowing along at a merry pace. Cook is the latest in a long line. But that body of work suggests something else: That this is the case with his Cook book comes across strongly.
There is a lack of feel for matters surrounding Cook and there are just far too many errors for anyone who had studied Cook properly. For example Elizabeth Cook's father was Samuel not John Batts while her cousin, not her brother, was a watchmaker.
One or two errors could be explained away by poor proof reading, but there are just too many for this excuse to hold. Beaglehole is least successful when covering Cook's early life and McLynn is equally sketchy over this period. He manages to introduce several unproven anecdotes, including the South Seas Shilling story at Staithes, before usually dismissing them as being without substance.
He even suggests Thomas Skottowe may have been Cook's real father! And an incident at Quebec that happened to Thomas Bissett nearly being captured by North American Indians while surveying in a small boat is applied incorrectly to Cook.
Chapter 2 begins on page 18 with a reproduction of a chart of Halifax Harbour by James Cook. Unfortunately for McLynn, the chart is by a different James Cook. Proper research would have revealed to him that three James Cooks operated as Royal Navy masters in Nova Scotia in the s and all drew charts. Similarly, the first illustration in the book, opposite page , purports to be the first portrait of James Cook dated Now, the three accepted portraits of Cook by Dance, Webber and Hodges do not resemble each other very much but this portrait allowing for it being about 13 years earlier looks nothing like any of them.
It would be interesting to know on what evidence this portrait can be said to be of Cook. McLynn can write, but I find it somewhat pretentious that he litters his text with so many foreign phrases; examples, including via dolorosa, coup de theatre, fidus Achates, bien pensant and coup de foudre, crop up regularly.
Lists with This Book. Recent writers have viewed Cook largely through the lens of colonial As a matter of policy, we do not send out e-mail from our domain name. Feb 22, Matt rated it really liked it. Anyone attempting a new biography, therefore, has a daunting task in front of him or her, given Beaglehole has covered most things. To my mind, McLynn could not be more wrong in understanding Cook, and does little in the book to substantiate his statement. Loved it, well written.
Given that we no longer put Otaheiti for Tahiti it seems strange that Omai continues to appear when the man's name was Mai. McLynn also likes throwing in long or obscure words such as fuliginous dusky , anfractuous winding or circuitous and nugatory futile or worthless.
They add little or nothing to the text. McLynn proceeds to criticise Cook for not understanding the complexities of Tahitian society. One of the pluses of the book is that McLynn does provide an explanation of that society, but he is able to do so with two hundred years' hindsight. Sadly, he does not give similar backgrounds to Tongan and M? Cook was no anthropologist, so to expect him to grasp these matters in a matter of a few weeks and with the added problem of not being able to freely converse because of language is unrealistic.
Having conducted myself some research on James Wolfe, the "victor" at Quebec in , I do not pretend to be a particular admirer of the general. McLynn, though, positively detests the man and every mention is accompanied by a vicious put down.
Master of the Seas . James Cook was born in Yorkshire in , the son of a farmhand. At 17, with the help of a Quaker benefactor, he joined the merchant navy at Whitby and learnt his seamanship on the bumpy London coal and Baltic timber runs. His navigational skill was exceptional as was his relaxed attitude to storms and to extend his horizons he joined the Royal Navy at Wapping in as an able seaman.
He soon rose to the rank of master, one below captain, and during naval action off Quebec met Samuel Holland, a military surveyor: Cook married Elizabeth Betts in Barking and by the time he returned to sea she was pregnant. This was to be the pattern in the years ahead: H is first voyage to the Pacific was at the behest of The Royal Society, which wanted precise observations on the transit of the planet Venus.
The earlier explorers Ferdinand Magellan and Abel Tasman had traversed it but Cook went much further, conducting the first circumnavigation of New Zealand where the violent Maoris were in marked contrast to the paradisal Tahitians.