Read The Death of Captain Cook: A Hero Made and Unmade by Glyn Williams Online


Since first reported to the world in 1780, the death of Captain Cook on a Hawaiian beach the previous year has been revered, celebrated, and shrouded in mystery. Simultaneously called a hero and an antihero, a ruthless invader, and a torchbearer of the Enlightenment, Cook s reputation grew as much out of the moving story of his death as out of his adventures while he livedSince first reported to the world in 1780, the death of Captain Cook on a Hawaiian beach the previous year has been revered, celebrated, and shrouded in mystery. Simultaneously called a hero and an antihero, a ruthless invader, and a torchbearer of the Enlightenment, Cook s reputation grew as much out of the moving story of his death as out of his adventures while he lived.In a style that is more detective story than conventional biography, Glyn Williams explores the multiple narratives of Cook s death. He reveals how the British Admiralty first attempted to censor accounts of Cook s erratic behavior and how the authorized version of his death a lengthy narrative serialized in the leading publications of the day reduced the story to the final hours of a noble leader who gave his life to save others. Williams argues that the contrary evidence of a chaotic bloody fracas on the beach at Kealakekua Bay was ignored, and that the unexplained disappearance of Cook s own journal helped the process of concealment. He believes that Cook was not entirely the man sanctified by the British public. More than two hundred years later, an explosive interplay between academic controversy and nationalist feelings has once more drawn attention to a life that has attracted praise and controversy, abhorrence and admiration. In short, Williams examines the story of Cook s progress from obscurity to fame and, eventually, to infamy a story that, until now, has never been fully told....

Title : The Death of Captain Cook: A Hero Made and Unmade
Author :
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ISBN : 9780674031944
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 197 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Death of Captain Cook: A Hero Made and Unmade Reviews

  • Louise
    2019-06-08 17:32

    I first became aware of the controversy surrounding the death of Captain Cook in reading "Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before" a few years ago. In it, Tony Horwitz describes how, on his third voyage, Cook displayed behavior that was not characteristic of his first two expeditions. He gave instances of an increase of tension with his crew, some questionable decisions and uncharacteristic interactions with native peoples. Whether he was tired, stressed or depressed, it came to a head on the Island of Hawai'i on February 14, 1779.Glyn Williams discusses the questions that surround the navigator's death. Why was this man, presumed to be a god, killed by former worshipers? Why do we not know the facts of what happened?Cook meticulously kept a log and when there was time he prepared two journals, one for the admiralty and another to be used for popular publication. Why does writing cease on January 17? Early publications of Cook's journals are purported to be his own words, but Williams gives examples of editing to increase the sensationalism of his findings and give Cook an all-knowing heroic posture. Could there have been a cover up of the events leading up to the stabbing death by Cook, himself, or others with an interest in maintaining Cook's image?Williams reports on and quotes from eye-witnesses, some from written documents of the crew, and some from Hawaiians who had been present that day as reported by later explorers. Williams discusses how Cook has been both tarnished and extolled. We writes of the differing perceptions of Cook in the colonial and post-colonial periods.This book documents a lot about Cook and the documentation can be like reading a list (this is not a page turner). For instance, the chapter "An Enlightenment Hero" gives page after page of citations and tributes, along with some reports of the fatal day. Sometimes the documentation gets in the way of clarity. For instance in the detailed report of the abrupt ending of Cook's log and journals, you learn in great detail how Cook kept records, the use of nautical versus civil time, and the dates that each ended. For the date of death, the fact that actually shows how long this lapse in the log actually is, have to flip pages to find.Sometimes, the author is just sloppy. An example on p.141 when he speaks of a growing 20th century trend in Australia that celebrates Cook and a simultaneous "excitement when every few years when a book appears that challenges Cook's assumed priority from an ever-growing group of Portuguese, Spanish, French and Chinese navigators." In the next paragraph he writes about a "similar" trend in New Zealand but only talks of the adulation and says there are no competing heroes.I would have given it 3 stars for the above noted weaknesses. But this is not an "average" book so it deserves more recognition. The author assembles important information, but if you are not interested in Cook already, this will not inspire you.

  • Martin
    2019-06-08 14:39

    Professor Williams has written a very scholarly book of importance to maritime historians, but it will also interest anyone who wants to understand more about James Cook the man, the difficulties facing two totally different cultures meeting for the first time, and the ways in which individuals and officialdom may have put different 'spins' on events related to Cook's death.The early part of the book analyses the accuracy of Dr John Douglas' editing of the manuscript journals kept by Cook on the 1776-1780 exploratory voyage of the Resolution and the Discovery into the Pacific Ocean. Cook apparently kept duplicate journals in addition to the formal ship's log, and there is evidence that other manuscript notes written by Cook prior to his death in February 1779 have been lost - accidentally or perhaps even deliberately: maybe an eighteenth century equivalent of current improper shredding of inconvenient evidence. By the time the authorised account was published in 1784, many others had written their own versions of Cook's third voyage into the Pacific. Most of these authors had not witnessed the killing of Cook, and may not have been anywhere near the beach on Hawai'i where he died. Williams draws on this material and on the various prints and other depictions of the events in Kealakekua Bay, to try to arrive at a probable interpretation of Cook's behaviour and frame of mind at the time he was attacked.The later chapters discuss the different British, European and Polynesian beliefs, attitudes and myths surrounding James Cook. Was he a 'Hero of the Enlightenment'? The book ends with an assessment of his legacy to the British during the (mainly Victorian) period of colonisation and Empire.My criticisms of this book are the lack of a dramatis personae list and lack of charts and maps (the endpaper map is mainly decorative). Williams brings in many names during his examination of evidence. Although he usually gives a person's rank or status on first mention, it is irritating later trying to remember whether X was a First or Second Lieutenant, whether he was on the Resolution or Discovery, etc.This book is not just a valuable supplement to J.C. Beaglehole's great biography: "The Life of Captain James Cook". It also adds a more modern understanding of his role in our encounters with new societies.

  • Don
    2019-06-10 11:32

    In 1779 Captain Cook anchored his ship, HMS Resolution, at Kealakekua Bay on the big island of Hawaii during the Makahiki new year/harvest festival. Any wars were suspended during this time, while priests processed clockwise around the island carrying an image of the god Lono (Akua Loa, a long pole with a strip of tapa cloth and other flourishes attached). Some said that the masts, riggings, and sails of the Resolution resembled Akua Loa, and Cook initially sailed in a clockwise direction around the island, so he was treated as a possible incarnation of Lono. After the ship’s initial departure the foremast was damaged, so Cook returned to the island to make repairs. This was unexpected (and perhaps unwelcomed) by the Hawaiians – Makahiki was now over. Tensions arose which eventually led to Cook’s death on the beach. This modest scholarly read covers the events leading up to the explorer’s death, and provides an engaging cultural study of the changing reputation of Cook’s status as a hero through the following centuries.

  • Harvey
    2019-06-09 11:44

    - Was Cook a hero or an anti-hero? A torch-bearer of the Enlightenment or a ruthless invader? He kept daily (or near-daily) journals for years but, mysteriously, there are none for the month before he died (February 14, 1779) of the beach at Kealakekua Bay, "O'why'he". Glyn Williams reveals evidence of how the British Admiralty censored accounts of Cook's increasingly erratic behaviour and promoted an 'authorized' version of his death (a noble leader who gave his life to save others...). Or did Cook begin to believe the worship and deification showered upon him by the Hawaiian natives, and suffer a nervous breakdown?- an interesting read, but repetitive, and way too much conjecture

  • secondwomn
    2019-05-26 11:46

    a nice scholarly look at the legacy of captain cook from the time of his death down through modern day, with recourse to european, american, and indigenous sources. highly readable and thoughtfully illustrated with engravings and memorials. all around a well put together dip into cook/explorer/colonial scholarship.

  • Chris
    2019-06-18 11:39

    (Hist 295B- Univ Freshman)