Captain Cook is generally acknowledged as the first great European scientific explorer. His voyage of exploration to the Pacific in HM bark Endeavour, commencing in 1768, lasted almost three years. In this time he recorded thousands of miles of uncharted lands and seas, including New Zealand, the east coast of Australia and many Pacific islands. His voyages were among the first to take civilian scientists, notably Sir Joseph Banks, and they revealed to European eyes the mysterious and exotic lands, peoples, flora and fauna of the Pacific.
But while Cook dominates the story of 18th-century Pacific exploration, the achievements of those who followed him on many voyages of science and exploration have been neglected and deprived of the greater attention they deserve. Correcting this imbalance, Pacific Exploration covers the European voyages that continued Cook’s work, not only of charting but also starting to exploit and control the Pacific. These voyages, by William Bligh, George Vancouver, Matthew Flinders, Malaspina, Laperouse and Arthur Phillip, span a period that saw Britain becoming the world’s leading maritime power.
With fascinating text and beautiful illustrations, this book explores topics of scientific discovery, engagement with indigenous peoples, the use of shipboard artists and scientists, the growing professionalism of the hydrographic service, the vessels used and the colonial, commercial and imperial contexts of the voyages.