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February 23 , 2011

Where Fate Beckons

The Life of Francois de La Penrose


After James Cook, La Perouse is undeniably the major explorer of the Pacific in the eighteenth century. Leaving France in 1785, his expedition spent two and a half years in the Pacific before vanishing totally after its departure from New South Wales in early 1788. The mystery of La Perouse’s disappearance and its solution almost 40 years later have attracted considerable attention, at times overshadowing the accomplishments of the expedition. For example, it was the first to visit California, and the first to survey the almost unknown seas north of Japan and the coast of Siberia.

This major new biography looks at La Perouse the man, his family background and early career, his years in the Indian Ocean, his part in the American War of Independence, and the sad romantic story of his marriage. It then follows him and his companions on his great voyage.

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