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Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone BeforeTwo Centuries After James Cook S Epic Voyages Of Discovery, Tony Horwitz Takes Readers On A Wild Ride Across Hemispheres And Centuries To Recapture The Captain S Adventures And Explore His Embattled Legacy In Today S Pacific Horwitz, A Pulitzer Prize Winner And Author Of Confederates In The Attic, Works As A Sailor Aboard A Replica Of Cook S Ship, Meets Island Kings And Beauty Queens, And Carouses The South Seas With A Hilarious And Disgraceful Travel Companion, An Aussie Named Roger He Also Creates A Brilliant Portrait Of Cook An Impoverished Farmboy Who Became The Greatest Navigator In British History And Forever Changed The Lands He Touched Poignant, Probing, Antic, And Exhilarating, Blue Latitudes Brings To Life A Man Who Helped Create The Global Village We Inhabit Today


10 thoughts on “Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before

  1. says:

    I can t get enough of Tony Horwitz He s like a smarter, less cheezy Bill Bryson whom I also like, dont get me wrong How Horwitz packs new historical perspective into a book this enjoyable is amazing Every book is the same I feel wiser and happier when I m finished.This journey with Captain Cook was no different An entire part of fairly recent human history I knew nothing about turned into a fun romp through renaissance exploration It added a brilliant understanding of early Pacific people, gave a balanced perspective on Englands colonial spread, and helped you admire the person of Cook himself.Fun Super Interesting Makes you want to be pals with Tony Horwitz all over again.


  2. says:

    I knew next to nothing about Captain James Cook when i picked up this book history books generally gloss over his voyages, even though he explored an area that encompasses nearly 1 3 of the globe Horwitz s urge to learn all he could about the man and his work is infectious you can see this in the text rubbing off on those around him, as seen in Roger, his companion on many of his Cook travels.Retracing Captain Cook s three voyages, relying heavily on the diaires of Cook himself, Horwitz decides to take a short trip to the Pacific Northwest to sail for 10 days in a replica of Cook s ship He wanted a feel for the life or a seaman, and he sure gets it Next he sets off to Australia and New Zealand His journalistic style brings in great aspects of history, anthropology, and language He interviews Maori people in New Zealand and Aborigines in Australia, asking them what memories their people have of Cook and his men Both groups remember Captain Cook, oftentimes in a negative light It does not appear that they despise Cook as a man, but of what he stood for, and what his exploration meant for the native culture.Horwitz and Roger then begin to island hop around the Pacific I particularly liked the time they spent on the island of Niue like Horwitz, I had never heard of this island Describing the scene, Horwitz claims it may be the last part of Polynesia that is not spoiled by commercialism and tourists He and Roger stay for a week on this small island only 11 miles long and try to unravel the mystery of the hula hula Cook s men were scared away from these islands by men with red teeth, and they named the island Savage Island because they thought the people were cannibals.Roger and Horwitz go to Yorkshire, England, Cook s birthplace and Roger s too , and take part in a few days of the Cook festival They meet Cliff, the young president of the Captain Cook society, and try to find out as much as they can about the enigmatic Cook Going to Cook s own home gives Horwitz a different take on the man, and he learns about Cook s beliefs and his philosophies.Their travels end in Hawaii, like Cook s did in 1778 They commemorate Cook on the beach where he was killed.The other aspect of this book that fascinated me was how Horwitz tried to get into Cook s head Cook was a son of the Enlightenment, and did not come to Polynesia with preconceived notions of God, Gold, and Glory like earlier explorers He wanted to discover and learn about others, and was very scientifically conscious for a man of his time.


  3. says:

    In my research for Wai nani, A Voice from Old Hawaii, I read a dozen accounts of Captain James Cook s deadly encounter with the natives of Hawaii in 1779 This included not only the Captains journal, but that of seaman, John Ledyard, and that of first mate, Lt King When Tony Horwitz declared that in Blue Latitudes he would take us boldly where Captain Cook had gone before, I didn t expect to learn anything new What I found was the most informative, well researched, fun account of the famous explorer to date Horwitz likens Cook s three voyages of discovery throughout Polynesia and the Northwest to that of the Startrek s explorations into deep space His journalistic style and breezy sense of humor keep historical events fresh I stuck closely to Horwitz account of the events in Kealakekua Bay in the telling of Wai nani s story Her first person narrative allows the reader to know what was happening in the Hawaiian culture on the fateful day the navigator lost his life Controversy over the actual events that took place that week and why rages on, but Horwitz provides an even handed, thoughtful point of view.LindaBallouAuthor.comWai nani, A Voice from Old Hawai i Her Epic Journey


  4. says:

    Those who would go to sea for pleasure would go to hell for pastime 18th century aphorismIf I were someone who believed in reincarnation, I would have to entertain the notion that I must have been a sea captain in a previous life Why else would I be so fascinated by the lives of the men who set sail on voyages of discovery, risking all to find lost continents, the fabled Northwest passage, or the elusive terra australis And why else would I be so enad of the sea and so terrified by it, in equal parts Reading accounts of early voyages, one truly understands the 18th century aphorism quoted above Wooden ships of the day were often nothing than floating deathtraps with rudimentary equipment, inadequate nutritional reserves, mutinous sailors, rats, filth, and untreatable diseases that could sweep through a ship and ravage its crew at any moment Barring those perils, if injury or drowning could be avoided, generally scurvy would get you regardless Those who survived at all rarely thrived under such conditions, particularly since these ships of discovery were often on voyages lasting several years at a time What kind of man would have the wherewithal, the constitution, the intellect, the bearing, the wanderlust, the stoicism, the curiosity, the luck, and the basic common sense to not only thrive at sea, but set off on three separate voyages of discovery in his forties, no less that changed the face of every map that existed during his lifetime Captain Cook, of course, would be that man His story is remarkable in every possible way He came from absolutely nothing He was a poor Yorkshire farm boy, who like most of the poor Yorkshire farm boys of his time, could probably have hoped for little than a hard, bucolic life with few conveniences and little opportunity of ever traveling than a few miles beyond his home Most people of his time lived and died in the shadow of the same small churchyard Yet Cook ended up traveling hundreds of thousands of miles in his lifetime, reaching parts of the globe no one had ever reached before him and circumnavigating the globe several times over How did this modest man with little schooling, no means, and no lofty connections raise himself up to become a captain in the Royal Navy and possibly the greatest explorer of all time Tony Horwitz became obsessed with this very same question and set off on his own journey of discovery to not only chart the progress of Cook s three very famous voyages, but also to try to uncover the character of the real Captain Cook, a man who has been both honored and vilified by cultures across the globe for over two centuries, cultures for whom Cook seems to signify many things to many people Horwitz is a fantastically engaging writer His casual humor and wry observations put one in mind of Bill Bryson, a comparison which I consider a huge compliment Horwitz knew he wanted to tell Cook s story in a way that would be historically accurate but also would be appealing and readable So, he decided to intersperse the details of Cook s voyages all of which are fascinating in every detail in and of themselves with the story of his own voyage to boldly go where Captain Cook has gone before This was a brilliant tack, and I ll tell you why From reading the journals of Cook and his men, it is obvious that Cook was in many ways the first true anthropologist Yes, others made contact with native peoples before him, but Cook seemed to be the first real practitioner of what modern anthropologists call cultural relativity, the notion of accepting the practices, beliefs and traditions of other cultures, learning and observing without judgment, and attempting to make a positive impact without too greatly affecting the culture as a whole Now, granted, this was the 1700s and not everything went off quite the way Cook would have liked, but that s all detailed in the book Suffice to say, Cook was sort of the Jean Luc Picard of sea exploration if you understand that reference you re as big a dork as I am He wanted to find new frontiers, chart new territory, experience rare flora and fauna, try new cuisine he was a VERY adventurous eater and truly make connections with native peoples not to exploit them, as colonists would, not to strip their resources, as so many others would in his wake, but to see the world and discover all there was to discover just for the sake of doing it and being the first to do so If he were alive today, he d be volunteering for missions to Mars Horwitz, on the other hand, is a journalist who knows the world has been discovered several hundred times over and wants really just to discover Cook The real Cook Not the symbol, not the hero or anti hero His mission is to uncover the truth under mountains of supposition In doing so, he visits many of the same places that Cook visited and details the modern conditions of those peoples in ways that were all largely affected by Cook s discovery of them Sure, if not Cook, someone else would have done so maybe fifty years later, maybe a hundred But Cook was first, and because of that, many cultures see him and maybe rightly so as the villain who opened them up to the hordes of Europeans who later came and decimated them Symbols are powerful things, and Cook became a symbol for his nation and all Western nations who raped the land and its people It s anthropology in action Cook s journals detailing the pristine cultures on first contact Horwitz writing about the long term effects of colonial influence on modern peoples It s all as sobering as it is fascinating, and the modern story has as many discoveries as Cook s did Horwitz keeps it moving along, at just the right pace, and he adds color and comic relief by embarking on many of his journeys with his hard partying friend Roger, another Yorkshire man who hightailed it to Australia, though that s where the Cook analogy ends Roger s jaded demeanor and pithy observations often put things back in perspective when Horwitz s quest for the truth and Cook s idealistic legacy meet incongruous modern roadblocks It took me awhile to get used to Roger, but once I did, I was glad to have him along for the ride There are so many facets to this book, so much history and lore it is difficult to even write a synopsis Patrick O Brian fans will note the similarity between the relationship of Cook and Joseph Banks the young botanist and upper crust adventurer who accompanied Cook on his storied first voyage to that of Aubrey and Maturin Others will note the appearance of William Bligh in the crew of Cook s third voyage, a man who would make history on The Bounty soon afterwards Cook went everywhere Literally everywhere From Polynesia to Antarctica He looked for the Northwest Passage, and befriended Maori cannibals Through it all he seems to have been largely a man of principle, fidelity and acceptance in a world so often unlike him, someone who managed to meet the world on his terms and not necessarily those of his Eurocentric brethren Hopefully, through Tony Horwitz, people will come away with a clearer picture of this captain, mathematician, adventurer, astronomer, and yes, anthropologist, who truly went where no white man had gone before and sometimes beyond that to where no one in the human race had ever gone before And when he was done, he packed up and did it all over again.


  5. says:

    This book is yet another to add to the pile of books that could have been so good, yet fell so short of glory.I had high hopes for this one I became fascinated with the story of Captain Cook recently, having never, not once, ever learned about him in school He was one of, if not the greatest explorer who ever lived, discovering and mapping most of the pacific islands, Austraila, New Zealand, and Hawaii just to name a few His adventures are legendary, and he caused giant leaps forward not only in our understanding of geography and the world, but in human relations, and even in nutritional science of the times Why our public school system thought it wise to excise him compeltely from the cirriculum is beyond me In any case, having read a little bit about him, I was anxious to devour any material I could find, and this book seemed like a great starting place The author, Tony Horwitz, would visit the places Cook visited, retracing his steps, showing what these places are like now, while elucidating us on Cook s historical journey s as he goes It sounded like a great idea It even begins with a Star Trek reference How could this book go wrong The first problem is, we are basically reading a bunch of irrelevant episodes from Tony s lame vacation And that s pretty much it While there are a few pages devoted to Cook s journey, there are two ro three times as many pages devoted to the bars that Horowitz frequents, the wet t shirt contests he observed, the boat races he took part in, etc If you can wade through all the nonsense, and useless garbage he spouts on the page about his own trip, you can get to his lame attempt at giving everything a historical context, and this is the second problem Horowitz contrasts a few passages about Cook, with his observations of the same areas in modern times, often interviewing locals of the area Does he choose to interview history professors, or sociocultural experts No His interview largely consist of bikers he meets at bars, teenagers smoking joints out in the woods, strange hermits living in shacks removed from society, and extremely prejudiced social activists Most of the people he interviews are either apathetic to Cook, unknowledgable about him in the slightest, or, worse, hate him with a venom I haven t seen outside of political debates Chapter after chapter is given over to these witnesses who decry Cook as a harbinger of destruction, blaming him and all of Western Society as the executioner of native culture, native peoples, and native values While the author occassionally inserts a sentence or two at the end of these diatribes saying something to the effect of, well, that is a little overstated, or, Cook probably wasn t as evil as all that, these lengthy venting sessions make up far too large of a percentage of the book They are ignorant, prejudiced, and filled with logical fallacy I can t underestimate how angry I get at this Western Culture is evil montra that is so often spouted whenever the topic of encounters with native peoples comes up These arguments ignore the savagrey of native peoples, and the good that has come from contact with western civilization There were so many moments in this book where I almost stopped and said outloud, if you hate living here so much, then sell all your crap, and go live out in the woods without power, a c, fresh water, or plumbing, where the height of technology is a rock tied to a stick and shut up You can do that No one s stopping you from leaving Shut up and get out of here if you hate it so much The truth that Cook was instrumental in promoting healthy, peaceful relationships with all the cultures he encountered much so than any explorer of his time, and often to the detriment and harm of his crew is mentioned by glossed over by Horowitz, who doesn t have time for a subtle analysis, since he has to get back to another drunken festival to interview some strung out hippies about why they hate authority.Ultimately, if you skip over the filler and the junk, and only read the sections about Cook about 25% of the book then yes, you d have a pretty good overview of Cook s life and journeys However, the real use for Blue Latitudes is that it shows you which books you should read instead Horowitz regularly consults Beaglehole s famous biography of Cook, and the bibliography was a great source for finding out where I need to go for further study If you re interested in Cook, check out one of the many real biographies instead of this waste of time.


  6. says:

    Despite an interesting topic Captain Cook and a fascinating setting the Pacific , I found this book ponderous and lacking momentum Perhaps it was the organization but once I d read about Cook s first journey to the South Pacific, I was done with this book I did finish you know by now that if I d quit the rating would be 1 star it s a book It picked up again when the author visited Yorkshire, Cook s childhood home, but then bogged down The end was awkward, bringing in the author s child who we had not heard about at all previously Highlights were the call on the King of Tonga, the visit to Niue and the search for the red banana, and the harrowing description of Cook s navigation of the Great Barrier Reef Even for Todd, a Patrick O Brian and sailing nut, finishing this book felt like penance rather than reward And for me, I felt like I was sitting through a neighbor s slides of his last vacation To be fair, I think this genre of modern travel writing leaves me cold anyway The places intrigue but the writing does not.


  7. says:

    This is a 4 Star read had to take one star away But such a good book about a man I knew little about I always wondered where the Sandwich Islands came from, learned about it here Lots of laughs and lots of thoughtful commentary interspersed with the history of Cook s three voyages to the Pacific Horwitz gives you the enjoyable travelogue of a Bill Bryson with almost none of the left wing snark Horwitz and his buddy Roger follow, as best they can, Cook s journeys and visit many of the islands The visits are both interesting and sad Horwitz recounts the island cultures of the day and compares it to what it is now The book begins with Horwitz taking a short working cruise on the replica of Cook s first Pacific ship, the Endeavour, in order to understand just what the men faced as they sailed into the unknown If I d been aboard the original Endeavour, the journey ahead would have loomed rather larger 1,052 days, to be exact, assuming I was among the 60 percent who survived This was a notion I struggled to wrap my mind around I d often felt sorry for myself when flying to and from Australia Twenty hours in the air A forced march through movies, meals, and mystery novels Almost the limit of the modern traveler s endurance Yet it had taken Cook and his men a year and a half to reach Australia, and almost as long to get home again.The accounts of Cook s travels and his exploits are amazing Ben Franklin ordered the US Navy to treat Cook and his men as friends in the middle of the Revolutionary War Catherine the Great followed his explorations I gained a great deal of admiration for these explorers Reading Cook s journals is a constant reminder of how specialized our skills have become in the modern era On one page, Cook discusses astronomy, geology, meteorology, and animal husbandry On the next, he offers insight into management, commerce, and diplomacy Then he veers into lengthy speculation about ocean currents, the formation of islands Few people today would even dream of dabbling in so many disciplines, much less mastering them Cook didn t excel at everything He was a merely competent linguist who leaned heavily on other crewmen when assembling native vocabularies Cook also freely acknowledged that religion remained a mystery to him Nonetheless, he seems such a polymath that his occasional blind spots come as a shock One such limitation was his shaky grasp of Polynesian politics In his approach to almost every other realm of Pacific life including sexual s and cannibalism Cook displayed a steady shrewdness and lack of bias But when it came to navigating island governance, Cook often tried to squeeze very foreign customs into an inelastic British box.I have a forest of little markers sticking out of my copy noting key events I should come back later and do a better review Fantastic book, lots of fun mixed in with serious scholarship.


  8. says:

    In Blue Latitudes journalist Tony Horwitz follows in the footsteps of Captain Cook, beginning with a week working as a member of the crew on board a replica of Cook s ship Endeavor I d always thought of Cook as this stereotypical British officer, all his buttons properly polished and looking down a very long nose at all these dreadful loincloth clad natives In fact, Cook was born in a pigsty, was subject in his youth to a strong Quaker influence, and worked his way up from shoveling coal to captain in the British Navy He wrote about the aboriginal people he met with respect and admiration His name is now a bad word all over the Pacific, but in truth Cook was the best white man they d ever meet This already lively narrative is made so by Horwitz travelling buddy Roger, one of the funniest, most cynical guys ever to walk through the pages of a book.


  9. says:

    3.9 Visai smagiai pakeliauta keliautojo, kartografo, atradejo kapitono James Cook pedomis.


  10. says:

    I don t remember how this book got onto my to be read list, but the other day I took my list to the local library and looked up all the books that were actually currently on the shelf, and checked out the few of them Then I was reading Greg Bear s Anvil of Stars, and it mentioned the Captain Cook solution to fighting a advanced civilization Blue Latitudes starts out with a kahuna coming aboard the Resolution to return some of the deboned flesh of Captain Cook s body It seems they saved certain bones in order to capture his power My choice was made.Tony Horwitz is a former war correspondent, and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, who in his retirement has researched and written several popular travel history biography books like Blue Latitudes In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he set out to research the three major exploratory voyages that James Cook undertook for England between the years of 1768 and 1780, and to visit some of the same sites finding out what has become of them in the little over 200 years since His partner on most of his trips is his hard drinking and womanizing Australian friend Roger Williamson, whose crude commentary sparks up the narrative.It s not the role of a review to re tell the contents of any book If you want that, or if you want to select an individual chapter to read, you can refer to my notes below My overall assessment is that I found this a fascinating read Horwitz carefully interweaves the stories of Captain Cook with his own, for interesting contrasts However, I enjoyed the Captain Cook stories , not actually knowing them before this I had expected Horwitz to follow Cook s routes closely, rather than just drop in at those points he found interesting or pleasant His and Roger s disappointments seemed to follow a sameness, relieved by drinking with the locals This was accompanied by a frank discussion of the drinking at sea, and the sexual activities and consequent spread of venereal diseases by Cook s crews among local islanders Contact with the West England in this case , trade, colonization, and spread of disease was devastating to indigenous people around the globe In the end, Horwitz tries to create a positive spin of mutual contact and communication, with damage limited by Cook s reserved personality and leadership But it counters the overall tone of the book, and I don t think it works very well The best I can say, is that the results were probably inevitable no matter who the leader had been.There is some serious scholarship behind this book, but it is written in an approachable and entertaining way Here are my chapter by chapter notes 1 Pacific Northwest One Week Before The Mast Horwitz s first one week experience on the reconstructed Endeavor, comparing to what it was like for Cook, Banks, and their crew He never gives the date for this, but based on his age at the time and his birth year, it must have been the late 1990s.2 Tahiti Sic Transit Venus Horwitz and his friend fly to Tahiti They don t so much trace Cook s route, as just drop in on Papeete We learn a little about the differing character of Cook and Banks After visiting the Gauguin Museum It s always the same story, isn t it You try to escape, to find simplicity, and end up bringing all your baggage with you 3 To Bora Bora Sold A Pup Cook sailed to Society Islands after Tahiti in order to give the crew time to be treated for venereal disease Horwitz and his friend rent a yacht and sail to Bora Bora where they become disillusioned about yet another paradise 4 New Zealand Warriors, Still Cook, looking for a fabled southern continent, instead found New Zealand The Maori are closely related to Tahitians, and the languages are mutually understandable Horwitz flew to New Zealand, and found a largely antagonistic attitude among the modern descendants of the Maori.5 Botany Bay In The Pure State of Nature Cook first encountered Australia and Aborigines at Botany Bay, then sailed past Port Jackson now Sydney Harbor Horwitz visits the environmental degradation of Botany Bay, and the cultural denigration of Cook in modern Australian society I noticed that white and British seem to be used as interchangeable terms.6 The Great Barrier Reef Wrecked The Endeavor was damaged on the Great Barrier Reef and nearly sank They got the ship to shore and spent a month repairing it The site is now Cooktown in northern Queensland, where Horwitz attends a drunken festival.7 Homeward Bound The Hospital Ship Cook, Banks, and crew reach Batavia Jakarta in good health, but after two weeks face an outbreak of malaria Many died there and on the trip to Cape Town They return to London and Cook gets approval for a second voyage this time with two ships Fortunately, no modern day Horwitz adventures are interspersed in the narrative.8 Savage Island The Hunt for Red Banana Cook spent years approaching Antarctica and searching for a great southern continent Horwitz chose not to attempt to reproduce any of that, but rather returned to tropical islands Cook visited briefly In this chapter, he and Roger spend a week at Niue, a very small and isolated island republic, searching for the red banana plant the islanders used to stain their teeth.9 Tonga Where Time Begins, and Goes Back Cook very much liked Tonga Possibly it is because the hierarchical society resembled England Horwitz and Roger visit and find it mostly unfriendly He finds and interviews a family that claims to be descended from Captain Cook.10 North Yorkshire A Plain Zealous Man Horwitz returns to the birthland of James Cook There is a lot of marginal memorabilia in the couple of towns, but not much actually of Cook Quakerism seems to have been a major influence on him.11 London Shipping Out Again Cook tried to settle down as a hospital administrator, but it did not last He shipped out on his third voyage in less than a year.12 Alaska Outside Men The mission of the third voyage was to find the Northwest Passage Cook sailed east to Polynesia and north to the Bering Sea His behavior turned erratic Horwitz and Roger travel to Unalaska and recount Aleut history and WW2.13 Hawaii The Last Island After Alaska, Cook was given a grand welcome at Hawaii Sailed away in triumph.14 Kealakekua Bay A Bad Day on Black Rock Needed to return after 3 days The story of Cook s death at Kealakekua, and several theories about why it happened The last month of Cook s diary is missing, probably removed by the crew or the admiralty later An image of Herb Kuwainui Kane s painting Moment When Captain James Cook was Killed can be found from.15 Epilogue A Period To His Labours Survivors sail to Kamchatka, and make another run at Alaska and Northwest Passage Most of the crew go on to other naval adventures and many die at sea William Bligh and the mutinous Bounty Elizabeth and Cook s sons The Endeavor and the Resolution are in Newport Bay, off the coast of Rhode Island Horwitz finds the arrow reputedly made from Cook s bone End of text.