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Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before

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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  5,229 ratings  ·  408 reviews
Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before

Two centuries after James Cook's epic voyages of discovery, Tony Horwitz takes readers on a wild ride across hemispheres and centuries to recapture the Captain’s adventures and explore his embattled legacy in today’s Pacific. Horwitz, a Pulitzer Prize-winner and author of Confederates in the Attic, works as a sailor aboard a r...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published August 1st 2003 by Picador (first published 2002)
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Lauren
I knew next to nothing about Captain James Cook when i picked up this book... history books generally gloss over his voyages, even though he explored an area that encompasses nearly 1/3 of the globe. Horwitz's urge to learn all he could about the man and his work is infectious... you can see this in the text rubbing off on those around him, as seen in Roger, his companion on many of his "Cook" travels.

Retracing Captain Cook's three voyages, relying heavily on the diaires of Cook himself, Horwitz...more
Linda
In my research for Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawaii, I read a dozen accounts of Captain James Cook’s deadly encounter with the natives of Hawaii in 1779. This included not only the Captains’ journal, but that of seaman, John Ledyard, and that of first mate, Lt. King. When Tony Horwitz declared that in Blue Latitudes he would take us boldly where Captain Cook had gone before, I didn’t expect to learn anything new. What I found was the most informative, well-researched, fun account of the famous...more
Mary
Oct 15, 2007 Mary rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history and sailing fans
Despite an interesting topic (Captain Cook) and a fascinating setting (the Pacific), I found this book ponderous and lacking momentum. Perhaps it was the organization but once I'd read about Cook's first journey to the South Pacific, I was done with this book (I did finish - you know by now that if I'd quit the rating would be 1 star "it's a book"). It picked up again when the author visited Yorkshire, Cook's childhood home, but then bogged down. The end was awkward, bringing in the author's chi...more
Mike Hankins
This book is yet another to add to the pile of books that could have been so good, yet fell so short of glory.

I had high hopes for this one. I became fascinated with the story of Captain Cook recently, having never, not once, ever learned about him in school. He was one of, if not the greatest explorer who ever lived, discovering and mapping most of the pacific islands, Austraila, New Zealand, and Hawaii just to name a few. His adventures are legendary, and he caused giant leaps forward not only...more
Deborah Edwards
“Those who would go to sea for pleasure would go to hell for pastime” – 18th century aphorism

If I were someone who believed in reincarnation, I would have to entertain the notion that I must have been a sea captain in a previous life. Why else would I be so fascinated by the lives of the men who set sail on voyages of discovery, risking all to find lost continents, the fabled Northwest passage, or the elusive “terra australis?” And why else would I be so enamored of the sea and so terrified by i...more
Rob
Let this wonderful book be your introduction to Captain Cook and the culture of love and vitriol surrounding him, even today. Cook was not an American, of course, and so there is nothing absolutely great he could have accomplished in the way of daring and understanding and prudence when exploring both poles and every latitude between on three unprecedented voyages. However, for an Englishman he did pretty well. He charted previously uncharted waters with a thoroughness and precision unmatched un...more
Dana Stabenow
In Blue Latitudes journalist Tony Horwitz follows in the footsteps of Captain Cook, beginning with a week working as a member of the crew on board a replica of Cook’s ship Endeavor. I’d always thought of Cook as this stereotypical British officer, all his buttons properly polished and looking down a very long nose at all these dreadful loincloth-clad natives. In fact, Cook was born in a pigsty, was subject in his youth to a strong Quaker influence, and worked his way up from shoveling coal to ca...more
Bob
I can't get enough of Tony Horwitz. He's like a smarter, less cheezy Bill Bryson (whom I also like, dont get me wrong). How Horwitz packs new historical perspective into a book this enjoyable is amazing. Every book is the same: I feel wiser and happier when I'm finished.

This journey with Captain Cook was no different. An entire part of (fairly recent) human history I knew nothing about turned into a fun romp through renaissance exploration. It added a brilliant understanding of early Pacific peo...more
Clifdisc
Blue Latitudes is half history and half travelog as author Tony Horwitz travels the world in the footsteps of Captain Cook. Horwitz is a great writer and I really enjoyed the way he cut back and forth between the historical details of Cook's travels and his own modern day travels investigating Cook's legacy. The balance was well struck and both stories were interesting, though the history was perhaps a little more interesting.


Horwitz is also a funny writer with a knack for finding colorful peopl...more
Siobhan
I must confess here that I love Tony Horwitz's writing. His ability to pick an interesting topic and delve into it from a myriad of perspectives is both astonishing and entertaining. He has a wry view of the world that allows him to talk to just about anyone, just about anywhere. Looking at the world from his perspective provides information and insights that I just haven't seen elsewhere.

That certainly is the case with Blue Latitudes. Previously, I knew that Captain Cook "discovered" Hawaii an...more
Mike Prochot
History mingled with a "buddy" type travel log. Tony Horwitz retraces the steps of Captain Cook and gives us a glimpse of how those locations have evolved since the good Captain visited.

Fun, very thought provoking and informative. Those interested in early exploration in general and of Captain Cook in particular should make it a point to read this book.

It is interesting to note the influence of Captain Cook that still exist in these places today - for good or for bad - and how the residents be...more
Yakinikuman
Horwitz alternates telling the history of Cook’s background and expeditions with stories about the author’s own travels to some of the same regions. I liked the book a lot and thought it was an entertaining way to learn about Cook and how he is perceived today.

As the subtitle alludes, Horwitz was inspired by comparisons of Cook to another captain, Star Trek’s Captain Kirk. James Cook::James Kirk. The Endeavour::the Enterprise. Seeking out new peoples and new civilizations. Makes you wonder if Ro...more
Mara
I almost recall the hubbub when this book came out in 2002, as I was living in the unincorporated town of Captain Cook at the time. But something kept it from me until now. It certainly lives up to its acclaim!
Just the idea of following the travels and travails of Captain James Cook, certainly one of the great explorers and exploiters of the entire world, put me in a traveling mood! And Tony Horwitz keep you moving - from his first voyage to his last and everywhere in between.
The subtitle says...more
Cheryl
About 2/3 done. Good read, but somehow a bit of heavy-going for me - I find myself putting it down and not being inclined to pick it up. That may simply be that it's Large Print and physically heavy. Or it may be that there's no photos, sketches. Are there such in the regular edition??

Ok done. I sure do feel like I've accomplished something. What, exactly, I'm not sure. It's definitely not an adventure story. Mostly it's a travelogue, I think. Something of a memoir, of the part of Horwitz that i...more
Arachne8x
This book gets a five star rating, because I first read it about 6 years ago and I keep recommending it to people and discussing with them the things I learned from it. Any book whose memory gets me to write about it years later has something special.

This is part travelogue, part biography, and part pop history, which is clearly what I like about it. The author tells the story of Captain Cook and his voyages of 'discovery' while also relating what the parts of the world that he touched are like...more
Kupkake
I didn't know as much about Capt. James Cook as I might have liked, but thank god for Tony Horowitz, my preferred guide in the geo-historical field. Capt. Cook is a contriversial figure of importance, historically he "discovered" much of So. Pacific islands, as well as Australia, while at the same time his discovery brought these paradaisical places into the rotteness of the colonial world. His background as a Yorkshire farmboy, clawing his way up the English Naval hierarchy, goes a long way tow...more
Jared Della Rocca
Tony Horwitz takes you on a journey through Captain Cook's three voyages (two through the South Pacific, the third up to Alaska and the Bering Sea before returning to Hawaii). Mingling the story of his own current journey with descriptions of Cook's through both the Captain's writings, as well as those of his shipmates, readers are able to experience the past and the present. We are able to gain an insight into the world that Cook walked, and flash forward to the effects of his landings. The wri...more
Tony Taylor
Very interesting and so well written. The author, Tony Horwitz, decides to follow the course of Captain James Cook, the great English explorer of the 19th century, as he travelled the Pacific on three epic voyages "discovering" many unique places that had never been visited by Europeans. Horwitz tells of his own adventures with a fine sense of humor, made all the more delightful by his traveling companion, a mostly-soused Englishman who lives in Australia and loves to sail. The author did his re...more
Ulrika Eriksson
Tony H från USA reser med sin australiensiske vän Roger Williamson, glad i flaskan, i Cooks gamla fotspår från 1768-1779. Han varvar Cooks beskrivningar av samhällena han besökte: Australien, Hawaii, New Zeeland, Tahiti o många fler, med sina egna av samma platser 240år senare. Ingen lycklig utveckling, tycker man. Alkohol, arbetslöshet och historielöshet. Veneriska sjukdomar och andra sjukdomar minskade ursprungsbefolkningens antal drastiskt och på kort tid. Upptäcktsresaren och kaptenen Cooks...more
Lisamichelle23
Loved this book especially where he visits places today that Captain Cook visted hundreds of years ago. While I learned alot from this book the thing that struck me the most that I never thought about before was how destructive the spread of Christianity was to alot of the world. Many native cultures, tradtions and historys have been lost forever because they were orally passed down through generations and the Christian missionarys discouraged this after the natives converted
Andrew
An excellent critical history of Captain Cook and his voyages of exploration to the Pacific. Horwitz recreates Cook's life of exploration by traveling to most of the spots in the Pacific visited by the explorer in his three voyages between 1768 and 1779.

Horwitz, a journalist by profession, does his reporter's best to talk to everyone and in the process puts together a picture of a farmer's son who goes to sea and stays there until his death on the big island of Hawaii, south of Kona, on Feb. 14,...more
Johnny
i bought this book during my trip to New Zealand and Australia. I encountered a few places named after cook, as well as a cruise company named after the Captain. Having never heard of him before, I thought it would be nice to read a book about him as I travel along the places he added to the world's map. I'm very happy that this book came up as the top Cook biography when I searched for one. It was a joy to read.
The book zigzags between the Cook history and the author's travels to the pacific. E...more
Alison Dellit
There's a trend this century among non-fiction writers of using naivete as a writing style that is really starting to irritate me. The idea, I assume, is that a casual reader much prefers as a narrative companion someone as ignorant as themselves, a good bloke or lass, setting out to explore the topic from scratch. Often this naivete is a front, the writer actually knows the topic back-to-front, but occasionally, as in Horwitz' book, the faux-naivete covers a real-naivete which is stronger than...more
Balika
I really enjoyed reading this book for so many reasons... I didn't know a lot about captain cook, and Horwitz didn't either, so used this book as a way to explore who this man was. It felt almost like investigative journalism. The premise behind the book was that Horwitz would travel to some of the places that Cook did, interview people, see significant sites and analyze the lasting effects of Cooks presence. I found many of the trials and tribulations of the author and his companion hilarious a...more
Tonya King
I have to admit that I read this book after I read "1421" by Galvin Menzies, which tainted my perception of both Captain Cook and the book as a whole. With that said, one has to be impressed with Horowitz's adventure and moxie. His awe of Captain Cook's sailing skills is genuine as well as his very biased opinion of Tonga. I have to say, I am less impressed with Cook, who when arriving in Botany Bay, Australia for the "first" time, marveled that it was smaller than he thought it would be... Why?...more
Rita
Interesting book about Captain James Cook, who explored and mapped most of the Pacific ocean over the course of three lengthy exploratory trips during the 18th century. The author spends a week on a replica ship, and later visits several of the islands that Cook discovered or visited, as well as going to England, and visits with many people on the islands. The book gives a lot of information about what happened during Cook's trip, and how things are at the present time, and some of the stories o...more
Laurie
Fascinating from beginning to end.
Barbara ★
Halfway through the book I was sick and tired of Captain Cook and his sailors. The story is so repetitive - visit island, visit bar, get drunk, ogle half-naked girls, get laid, repeat tomorrow at a different island. Admittedly this is probably exactly what they did but chapter after chapter of this was rather boring to read.

Though I will say that Tony Horwitz made some insightful speculation while at Captain Cook's childhood home. He explained, reasonably I thought, how the various things helped...more
Andy
The list of places visited by Captain Cook in his three voyages between 1768 and 1779 is far too long to be thoroughly documented in 500 pages, but Horwitz does a good job of following Cook’s first voyage through the South Pacific, visiting many of the sights along the way (Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia), and gauging Cook’s legacy through interviews with locals. During a trip to England, the author gives a glimpse of Cook’s childhood and his path to becoming the great explorer.

Considerably less...more
Susie
From the Antarctic in the south to the Arctic in the north and all of Polynesia in between, Captain James Cook’s travels and the maps he charted in the late 1700‘s created a picture of the globe that remains very much like it is today. Not only does Horwitz give us a fascinating account of Cook’s amazing three voyages around the world the descriptions of his own experiences in retracing the circumnavigator’s steps reads like a travelogue of the South Seas and beyond. The author’s interviews with...more
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Date of Birth: 1958

Tony Horwitz is an American journalist and writer. His works include Blue Latitudes, One for the Road, Confederates In The Attic and Baghdad Without A Map. His most recent work, published in April 2008, is A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World, a history and travelogue dealing with the early European exploration of North America.
More about Tony Horwitz...
Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World Baghdad without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War One for the Road: An Outback Adventure

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“Cook, judging from his journals, was not a pious man. A product of the eighteenth century Enlightenment, he valued reason above all else, and showed little patience for what he called “Priest craft” and “superstition.” 0 likes
“The best you can do is catch an echo of the man. You can never reach out and touch him.” 0 likes
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