Captain Cook: Obsession And Betrayal In The New World.
ISBN 0 09 187913 2.
This is a Cook book with a difference as the author recounts her personal voyage of discovery into the lives of Cook and her distant relative George Collingridge (1847-1931). The author alternates chapters on Cook with those of her relative, and draws comparisons between the two men, their characters and careers.
George Collingridge had emigrated to Australia, where, in 1895 he published The Discovery of Australia, a 376 page culmination of his 12 years of investigations into ancient maps. His conclusions, that the Dutch and Portuguese had visited the continent long before Cook arrived, were acclaimed in Europe where he was awarded honours by the kings of Spain and Portugal. But in his adopted homeland his conclusions were ahead of their time. His proposals were rejected by both the Establishment and the public as they flew in the face of the British Empire and the accepted history which recognised Captain Cook as the "discoverer" of Australia.
At pivotal points in the book the author visits sites of importance to Cook and Collingridge, and describes their appearance today. She takes the reader into the water at Endeavour Reef, to the Collingridge family home in Sydney, and ends her voyage, as Cook did, on the shore of Kealakekua Bay.
The author has accomplished a difficult task in weaving together the lives of her two heroes, although I was left wanting to know more about Collingridge and wondering if his own story of discovery and denial might not deserve a separate biography. The book is eloquently written and the author has an excellent turn of phrase, making it very readable. It contains illustrations relating to its two historical protagonists, a useful bibliography and a detailed index. It is also the first Cook book which I have seen which recommends that its readers visit our Society's website !
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 1941, volume 25, number 2 (2002).