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Alone and defenceless: the tragic death of Captain Cook

Striding ashore unarmed showed courage that bordered on recklessness. But it was a kind of theatre Cook relished on his travels - and, famously, it didn’t always work

27 April 2024

9:00 AM

27 April 2024

9:00 AM

The Wide Wide Sea: The Final, Fatal Voyage of Captain James Cook Hampton Sides

Michael Joseph, pp.432, 25

The principal purpose of Captain James Cook’s last voyage, which began in Plymouth on 12 July 1776, was to discover the elusive Northwest Passage. Attempts had been made before, in vain, from the Atlantic, but this time it would be from the west, from the Pacific.

On the way, Cook was to return an Anglicised Polynesian named Mai to Raiatea, ‘a ragged volcanic island’ about 130 miles north west of Tahiti.

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