Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before
Part travelogue, part history book, Blue Latitudes chronicles the author’s search for Captain James Cook. Horwitz attempts to uncover Cook’s enigmatic personality, and the mystery surrounding his death by re-living Cook’s encounters with the peoples of present-day Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Tahiti, Niue, Hawaii, and Alaska. Visiting these places, Horwitz reflects on how Cook’s voyages affected the culture of the peoples he encountered, and probes how Cook is viewed in these places today. Horwitz does likewise in Cook’s native Yorkshire and in London, ultimately searching for why Cook felt compelled to travel to the Pacific.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which begins with Cook’s first and second voyages, backtracks to his early life, then continues with his third voyage and his death. Horwitz immersed himself so completely in Cook’s life that he even took a berth aboard a replica of the Endeavour. His escapades as he travels about the Pacific are at times off-color and irreverent but always in the interest of learning more about Cook and his world. They are presented in a conversational style that vividly shows the reader the places described.
By reading Blue Latitudes, I gained knowledge of Cook’s historic voyages, and of the places he visited: as they were then, and as they are now. A must for any adventurer.