This vivid book retells the story of Captain Cook's great voyages in the South Seas, focusing on the encounters between the explorers and the island peoples they "discovered." While Cook and his men were initially confounded by the Polynesians, they were also curious. Cook and his crew soon formed friendships-and often more intimate relationships-with the islanders. The islanders, who initially were not certain if the Englishmen were even human, came to experiment with Western customs and in some cases joined the voyagers on their expeditions.
But familiarity quickly bred contempt. Shipboard discipline was threatened by these new relationships, and the culture of the islands was also changed forever. Captain Cook, initially determined to act as an enlightened leader, saw his resolve falter during the third voyage. Amicable relations turned hostile, culminating in Cook's violent death on the shores of Hawaii.
In this masterful account of Cook's voyages, Anne Salmond-a preeminent authority on the history of the south seas-reimagines two worlds that collided in the eighteenth century, and the enduring impact of that collision.