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Alan Villiers - Captain James Cook

Alan Villiers - Captain James Cook (1967) Unabridged
Books-on-Tape | ISBN 0141390628 | Narrator Richard Green (1983) | MP3 32kpbs | 9Hrs 59Mins | 8Tapes | 136Mb

The most important explorer of his day, Captain James Cook's coat of arms carries the motto: "He left nothing unattempted". During three major voyages, first in HMS "Endeavour" and subsequently in HMS "Resolution", Cook added many new places to the world map, including the islands of Hawaii. He charted the coast of New Zealand, and the east coast of Australia, conducted important astronomical observations, witnessing the transit of Venus from Tahiti, and began the search for a north-west passage from the Pacific side. But perhaps Cook's achievement as a seaman is greater than his achievement as a discoverer. With huge energy and enterprise, he pioneered trade routes and skilfully mapped the seas, thus dispelling the cloud of the unknown for his fellow seamen. Alan Villiers's biography reveals the many talents and qualities of the young man who began work on the "coal cats" of the North Sea trade and went on to become the greatest Pacific explorer of all time.

Villiers was an excellent writer and his book is a masterpiece both in laying the foundation for the history into which James Cook sailed as well as in telling the story. An accomplished sailor himself, Villiers writes with an understanding of the subject that translates easily to the reader. His turn of phrase and elegant prose is a joy to read. Its cultural/sociological insights, while seen through the eyes of an 18th century Brit, add much to the tale. Highly recommended! (Note: Those who have read Patrick O'Brian's books are familiar with Jack Aubrey's rantings about the criminal outfitting done in naval dock yards of the era. We see the deadly consequences of such in Cook's voyage.)

Captain Cook was history's greatest explorer. Alan Villiers helps us come to grips with the scope of Cook's accomplishments. As a deep-water sailor himself, Villiers puts into perspective not only the technical problems and accomplishments, but those of body and spirit as well. "His use of seafaring terms gives his story an Elizabethan richness of language, while the feel of the open sea, of the various weathers and the challenge of the ships can be felt on every page. It must have been hell to sail on those cockleshells, but it makes the blood tingle to read about them." (The New York Times)

Alan Villiers

 Captain James Cook



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