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May 29 , 2010

Captain Cook's Journal During the First Voyage Round the World - The Original Classic Edition


These are James Cooks actual log books and contain lengthy passages of sextant readings, weather, currents, and so on. It picks up when the Endeavour makes land and Cook has to deal with colonial bureaucrats, establish relations with natives, or discipline misbehaving crew. Cooks personality slowly reveals itself through his dry, veddy British comments on events throughout the voyage. Its also fun to pull up Google Earth and follow along using the daily lattitude & longitude.

The route starts from London, and includes Rio de Janiero, around Tierra del Fuego, Tahiti, circumnavigation of New Zealand, mapping of Australias east coast, Batavia [Jakarta], and Cape Town. This edition was published in 1893 with and introduction and historical notes throughout by Captain W,J,L, Wharton.

This work begins with a brief sketch of the life of Captain Cook. I have read several full blown biographies of this most famous of Captains and explorers but I have to tell you that this brief sketch was worth book alone and if a readers interest lies in this direction, this little introduction to Cooks log will most certainly stimulate interest and quite possible the motivation to read one of the several great biographies available.

What follows is a fascinating story. A copy of Cooks actual log; a very detailed log I might say. I will tell you right now that there are hundreds of nautical readings; latitudes, longitudes, wind speeds, depth readings, temperature readings weather reports. To be honest I did quite a lot of skim reading when I can to these parts (and here were many) of the log book. Likewise as to the references to the mechanics of the ship as I confess to you that I do not know a topsail from an anchor chain, much less Topgallant Yards. This was fine by me though. I am not a sailor, never been a sailor and have no intention of ever stepping on a ship or boat that leaves the sight of land. I love to read about such things though.

The most interesting aspect of this book for me though was when the good Captain recorded his observations as to his crew and the various indigenous peoples encountered on this voyage. It was also of great interest to me just how much Cook worried, suffered and fretted over the well being of his crew. This man was not only adventuresome, smart and able, he also seemed to care greatly for his fellow travelers. Do not that some of the terms used here will take some research and getting use to. The writing style is typical of those times as is the sentence structure, the strange use of capital letters which pop up in the most unlikely places, and indeed, much of the spelling. This all fascinated me. I would also recommend, if you are extremely interested and really want to get the most out of this work, you should have a good atlas; both old and new, close at hand. This will enhance the reading of this work greatly.

You will enjoy many aspects of this work.

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