Captain James Cook was the greatest explorer of his age, perhaps of any age. He was a leader of men, a master voyager who journeyed to unknown places, a seeker of knowledge who commanded three demanding scientific expeditions. He and his crews had encounters with peoples of the South Seas which could lead to mutual respect and trade, but also to misunderstanding and violence. Even before he died his exploits were widely admired. But his death at the hands of Hawaiians turned him into a legendary figure, a hero of the Enlightenment, who was said to have brought "civilization" to the Pacific while giving up his own life in the process. Yet despite everything that is known about Cook's life and many adventures, the man himself remains shrouded in mystery. With this book, Dan O'Sullivan seeks to put this right and casts vivid light on Cook's character, teasing out his personality from the pages of his own journals. As well as an original and illuminating re-examination of Cook's complex character, this is also a vivid introduction to his life and times which is essential reading for anyone with an interest in this incomparable sea-captain.
Dan O'Sullivan is an author and historian with degrees in history from the universities of Cambridge and East Anglia. His books include The Age of Discovery 1400-1550, and Tudor Britain 1485-1603. He lives in Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, the village where James Cook spent much of his childhood. For several years he was secretary of the Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum which is housed in the building where Cook went to school. He is married with four children.