Cook's great voyages marked the end of an era in world history. As he sailed into Hawaii in January 1778 he made contact with the last of the human civilizations to grow up independently of the rest of the world. But equally for the Polynesians and Melanesians of the Pacific, Cook's arrival in their midst merely marked a further (if disastrous) twist in diverse histories already many centuries old.
In this immensely enjoyable and absorbing book Cook's journeys are reimagined, attempting toleave behind (or master) our later preoccupations to let us see what Cook and his associates experienced and what the societies he encountered experienced - from the Beothuks of Newfoundland to the Tongans of the Friendly Islands.
Nicholas Thomas has been Director of Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology since 2006. He visited the Pacific Islands first in 1984 to research his PhD thesis on the Marquesas Islands and later worked in Fiji and New Zealand, as well as in many archives and museum collections in Europe, North America, and the Pacific. His books include Entangled Objects (1991), Oceanic Art (1995), Discoveries: the voyages of Captain Cook (2003), and Islanders: the Pacific in the Age of Empire (2010), which was awarded the Wolfson History Prize.