Cover image for Blue latitudes : boldly going where Captain Cook has gone before
Blue latitudes : boldly going where Captain Cook has gone before
Horwitz, Tony, 1958-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : H. Holt, 2002.
Physical Description:
480 pages : 1 illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Corporate Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
G420.C65 H67 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
G420.C65 H67 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
G420.C65 H67 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



In an exhilarating tale of historic adventure, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Confederates in the Attic retraces the voyages of Captain James Cook, the Yorkshire farm boy who drew the map of the modern world

Captain James Cook's three epic journeys in the 18th century were the last great voyages of discovery. His ships sailed 150,000 miles, from the Artic to the Antarctic, from Tasmania to Oregon, from Easter Island to Siberia. When Cook set off for the Pacific in 1768, a third of the globe remained blank. By the time he died in Hawaii in 1779, the map of the world was substantially complete.
Tony Horwitz vividly recounts Cook's voyages and the exotic scenes the captain encountered: tropical orgies, taboo rituals, cannibal feasts, human sacrifice. He also relives Cook's adventures by following in the captain's wake to places such as Tahiti, Savage Island, and the Great Barrier Reef to discover Cook's embattled legacy in the present day. Signing on as a working crewman aboard a replica of Cook's vessel, Horwitz experiences the thrill and terror of sailing a tall ship. He also explores Cook the man: an impoverished farmboy who broke through the barriers of his class and time to become the greatest navigator in British history.
By turns harrowing and hilarious, insightful and entertaining, BLUE LATITUDES brings to life a man whose voyages helped create the 'global village' we know today.

Author Notes

Tony Horwitz is the bestselling author of Midnight Rising , A Voyage Long and Strange , Blue Latitudes , Confederates in the Attic , and Baghdad Without a Map . He is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has worked for The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker . He lives in Martha's Vineyard with his wife, Geraldine Brooks, and their two sons.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Captain James Cook was the first true agent of globalization; his three inconceivably long and arduous voyages of exploration filled in vast blank spaces on the map and opened unseen lands to Western trade, missionizing, conquest, and genocide. According to Horwitz, "Cook, in sum, pioneered the voyage we are still on, for good and ill." Journeying to key Cook sites, Horwitz retells the sailor's story and tries to re-create first contact from the point of view of the locals--Tahitians, Maoris, Aleuts, Hawaiians, and others--and judge the legacy of his landing. While admitting that Cook's arrival often proved disastrous to indigenous peoples, he also finds that in some places the navigator's amazing achievements have been downplayed for the sake of political correctness. Above all, though, Horwitz is fascinated by the character of Cook and the conditions of the times (he notes that a 40 percent casualty rate wasn't extraordinary for sailing vessels of the day), and as he searches for clues to these, his obsession becomes contagious. Abetted by his friend Roger Williamson, who also provides salty comic relief, Horwitz crisscrosses the Pacific, taking us back and forth in time while ably balancing the many elements of his tale. This thought-provoking travelogue brims with insight and will appeal to anyone who yearns for the days when there was something left to discover--while making them wonder if, really, we should have just stayed home. --Keir Graff

Publisher's Weekly Review

In an entertaining, informative look at the life and travels of Capt. James Cook, Horwitz (Confederates in the Attic; Baghdad Without a Map) combines a sharp eye for reporting with subtle wit and a wonderful knack for drawing out the many characters he discovers. The book is both a biography of Cook, the renowned 18th-century British explorer who's widely considered one of the greatest navigators in maritime history, and a travel narrative. On one level, Horwitz recounts Cook's rise from poverty in a large family in rural England to an improbable and dazzling naval career that brought him worldwide fame. On another, he tells his own story of following in Cook's wake, visiting his far-flung destinations (with the exception of Antarctica) and investigating his legacy. It is satisfying in both regards, Horwitz skillfully pacing the book by intertwining his own often quite funny adventures with tales of Cook and his men. Despite the historical focus, Horwitz doesn't stray too far from the encounters with everyday people that gave his previous books such zest. His travels bring him face-to-face with a violent, boozing gang of Maori New Zealanders called the Mongrel Mob, who are violently critical of Cook, arguing that "Cook and his mob, they put us in this position," Moari activists "wondering at those who would honour the scurvy, the pox, the filth and the racism" that they feel he brought to their island, and the King of Tonga, who couldn't seem to care less about what the explorer meant to his domain. With healthy doses of both humor and provocative information, the book will please fans of history, exploration, travelogues and, of course, top-notch storytelling. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Journalist Horwitz, who is fascinated by James Cook and is convinced the world has underestimated his achievements, follows the explorer's three ventures into what was at that time the vast unknown. Signing on as a crew member for a Cook ship simile cruise, he experiences firsthand the life of an 18th-century sailor and becomes completely captivated with Cook's accomplishments. Subsequently, Horwitz and an Australian friend take more contemporary transportation to visit the captain's English home and the faraway places with strange sounding names that he opened to the world. The author slips easily from explaining history, Cook's personality, and life to describing his own modern-day experiences delving into Cook's past. Some details of late 1700s shipboard discipline, sexual lifestyles, and Cook's death and dismemberment are probably too grisly for most young listeners. Despite a few too many searches for and visits with the odds and ends of people (from bartenders to a king) who claim to have some affiliation with Cook, the book is interesting and educational. Daniel Gerroll is well spoken and does accents and other voices very nicely. For history and travel buffs interested in Australia, the South Pacific, and seafaring; generally recommended for adult and college collections.-Carolyn Alexander, Brigadoon Lib., Corral de Tierra, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



From Blue Latitudes: I studied the application for a berth on His Majesty's Bark Endeavour. An Australian foundation had built a replica of Cook's first vessel and dispatched it around the globe in the navigator's path. At each port, the ship's professional crew took on volunteers to help sail the next leg and experience life as eighteenth-century sailors. This seemed the obvious place to start; if I was going to understand Cook's travels, I first had to understand how he traveled. The application asked about my "qualifications and experience." "Have you had any blue water ocean sailing experience?" "Can you swim 50 meters fully clothed?" "You will be required to work aloft, sometimes at night in heavy weather. Are you confident of being able to do this?" I wasn't sure what was meant by "blue water ocean." Did it come in other colors? I'd never swum clothed; as for working aloft, I'd climbed ladders to scoop leaves from my gutter. I checked "yes" next to each question. But the last query gave me pause. "Do you suffer from sea sickness?" Only when I went to sea. Excerpted from Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before by Tony Horwitz All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Distance Traveledp. 1
1 Pacific Northwest: One Week Before the Mastp. 9
2 Tahiti: Sic Transit Venusp. 42
3 To Bora-Bora: Sold a Pupp. 77
4 New Zealand: Warriors, Stillp. 101
5 Botany Bay: In the Pure State of Naturep. 140
6 The Great Barrier Reef: Wreckedp. 165
7 Homeward Bound: The Hospital Shipp. 199
8 Savage Island: The Hunt for Red Bananap. 214
9 Tonga: Where Time Begins, and Goes Backp. 248
10 North Yorkshire: A Plain, Zealous Manp. 282
11 London: Shipping Out, Againp. 315
12 Alaska: Outside Menp. 333
13 Hawaii: The Last Islandp. 375
14 Kealakekua Bay: A Bad Day on Black Rockp. 405
Epilogue: A Period to His Laboursp. 434
Notes on Sourcesp. 445
Selected Bibliographyp. 453
Acknowledgmentsp. 461
Indexp. 463