Item description for Captain James Cook: Seaman and Scientist by Bill Finnis...
This book is a gripping account of the career and achievements of one of the most intriguing figures of world exploration and British naval history -- Captain James Cook. Born in 1728, the son of a farm laborer, Cook, through sheer determination, keen intellect and consummate skills as a seaman, rose to honours and recognition in his own time and to a unique and enduring prominence in the history of navigation. The book retraces Cook?s three voyages, ending with his tragic death in Hawaii in 1779. It also assesses his unique contribution to exploration and discovery, to seafaring, science and medicine. It took extraordinary courage to sail for months on end through unchartered waters, aboard crowded ships, relying almost entirely on the skills and knowledge of the sea possessed by the captain, his officers and crew. One can almost feel the spray and taste the salt as this fast-moving narrative unfolds. Superbly illustrated with Bill Finnis's photographs, maps and evocative sketches from his own six-year voyage, as well as the charts, paintings and engravings of the period, this fascinating book offers a unique understanding of the personality and achievements of Captain James Cook, seaman and scientist.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 10.7" Width: 8" Height: 0.9" Weight: 2.8 lbs.
Release Date Apr 1, 2004
Publisher Chaucer Press
ISBN 190444914X ISBN13 9781904449140
Reviews - What do customers think about Captain James Cook: Seaman and Scientist?
This man can write. Apr 1, 2004
There are those who are quite able to transfer their research into the written word in such a way that the reader is fully able to enjoy the fruits of their work - and there are those who are not. Thankfully, Bill Finnis belongs to the former group.
"Captain James Cook - Seaman and Scientist" arrived through my letterbox just as I was departing for a week's diving on one of the many Safari Boats found in the Egyptian Red Sea. I always take a good book on such trips and this one proved to be an excellent choice.
This is a hardback book measuring approx. 11in x 8¼in, containing almost 250 pages of text with just the right amount of charts, sketches, portraits and photographs in support. The book begins with a chapter headed "Setting the Scene" and that is precisely what it does. Drawing on his own vast experience of the sea, the author explains the prevailing wind conditions in the Pacific Ocean before reminding us of the contributions made by a host of individuals - many of us will remember from our school days; Magellan, Drake, Anson, Bougainville, Dampier and Cartaret - to name but some.
So, having been reminded of what has gone before in terms of world exploration we are now treated to an exposé of Cook's early years and how he came to be apprenticed to a small shipping company in Whitby on the Yorkshire coast. Then, after some 4 years - and just as he is offered his very first command of a merchant ship, he elects instead to widen his horizons by joining the Navy.
What follows is an immensely readable account of Cook's life and, of course, his death. Along the way, we learn of the difficulties associated with determining longitude and how this led to errors in fixing the precise positions of islands being charted by various explorers. We also learn how William Bligh - later to become that famous Captain Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty fame, accompanied Cook on his last voyage. Perhaps, after learning so much about navigation from the great man himself, it was little wonder that Bligh survived that epic voyage in a small open boat after having been evicted from his ship.
Elsewhere, we learn how Cook had conducted a detailed survey of the Coast of New Zealand during 1769-1770. I particularly liked the comment whereby, in 1943 US Forces were based in that country and decided the charts should be brought up to date. Their own survey of the New Zealand coastline revealed several apparent errors made by Cook. Some years later, with the benefit of satellite position fixing, it was found that the US Forces were in error and Cook had been right all along.
In summary, this book contains 250 pages of historical detail written in a style which makes it hard to put down. It is a fascinating account of one of history's most fascinating men and the reader will not be disappointed by either the content or the way in which it is presented.