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A captain of history

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Books celebrating the life of explorer, navigator, cartographer extraordinaire – Captain James Cook.

More than 250 years later, James Cook’s 1768-71 voyage as Captain of the HMS Endeavour still stands as one of the greatest maritime achievements in modern history. After successfully navigating from England to Tahiti, in order to observe the transit of Venus, the expedition continued into the largely uncharted waters of the South Pacific, in search of a yet-unknown southern continent. During the expedition, Cook and his crew mapped New Zealand and the east coast of Australia, before circumnavigating the globe and returning to England with detailed knowledge of ‘undiscovered’ southern lands. A year later, he did it all again – this time entering the Antarctic Circle on HMS Resolution. And then, fatefully, in 1776 he embarked once more, only to meet his demise during a violent clash in Hawaii.

Cook’s scientific and geographic legacy is immeasurable, and his meticulous records have been pored over by historians, scientists and writers worldwide, leading to an enormous body of work in celebration of his achievements. Here are some books exploring the life and times of one of humanity’s great adventurers.