Captain Cook: A Legacy Under Fire

Front Cover
Globe Pequot Press, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 376 pages
In 1768, James Cook, on an epic sea journey that secured his place in history, discovered Australia. One hundred years later, countering cherished legends, George Collingridge dared to claim that the Portuguese had gotten to Australia first. Now VANESSA COLLINGRIDGE, his distant cousin, unravels the strange tale of history's most fascinating explorer and the man who sought to dethrone him.

Collingridge charts Captain Cook's celebrated voyages: He mapped the Pacific islands, circumnavigated Antarctica, charted New Zealand, and discovered the New Hebrides and Australia, curing scurvy along the way. He was shipwrecked on the Great Barrier Reef, cruised with sails frozen amid two-hundred-foot-tall icebergs, struggled to keep his crew from losing battles with alcohol and Polynesian women, and somehow managed to stay one step ahead of competing French and Spanish explorers. Over his twenty-one years of adventure--until his murder on a beach in Kealakekua Bay in Hawaii in 1779--Cook changed the Western map of the world.

Or so schoolchildren were taught. In 1883 British aristocrat George Collingridge sailed Down Under in search of adventure--and came across maps of Australia dated 1542 and 1546, drawn in northern France but based on Portuguese originals, suggesting that Cook was not the first to reach Australia. This proposal would prove Collingridge's undoing--and yet it is a controversy that lives on.

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About the author (2003)

VANESSA COLLINGRIDGE is the co-anchor of Britain's news program Tonight and writes a column for The Daily Telegraph. She studied geography at Oxford University and is currently a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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