- Captain Cook sailed over 200,000 miles in his Navy career.
- French Polynesia includes 118 islands (one of which is Tahiti) scattered over an area of the Pacific Ocean that is about the size of Europe.
- In Tahiti, many houses have boites de pain - mailboxes for freshly baked baguettes.
- In an effort to keep the Maori language alive in New Zealand, a commission was created to make up words for modern things - such as rorohiko, the word for computer, which translates to "brain lightning."
- Part of Cook's exploration was to create maps of what he found, including naming things. He named the entire continent of Australia New South Wales. No one knows why, since it doesn't seem to resemble Wales in any way.
- The island of Niue (pronounced NEW-ay) is the world's smallest self-governing state. It has a population of about 1,600 people.
- Niue translates to "behold the coconut."
- Captain Cook gave a tortoise to the residents of Tonga on his voyage in 1777. It lived until 1966. Its stuffed remains now reside in the Tongan National Center.
- The islands of Hawaii are farther from continental land than any other group of islands on earth.
- The Hawaiian language has only twelve letters.
Premise of the book: In the 1770s, Captain James Cook set off on three voyages of discovery. He discovered islands in the Pacific, he charted and claimed new territories, and he searched for both the fabled southern continent and the Northwest Passage. He was a remarkable man who lived an extraordinary life. Tony Horwitz tells Cook's story in Blue Latitudes, describing his three voyages in detail. Horwitz also visits many of the places that Cook traveled to in order to see what life is like there now - and how Cook's legacy of European discovery has affected these places.
Random Facts Learned By Reading This Book:
General thoughts on the book: This book was really well done. When you talk about European exploration, you inevitably have to discuss the results - the diseases and loss of culture that the native residents suffered and still suffer today. Horwitz handles that very tactfully and respectfully. This book is really both history and travel narrative, and it's the best of both. It's enjoyable and easy to read, covering places both familiar (like Australia) and unknown (like Niue). If you're looking for a book that brings you to new shores, this would be a very good choice!
My name is Julie, and I own a lot of books. As in, they are stacked on the floor because I've run out of room on the shelves. And those shelves? There are so many books on them that they smile -- not sag; smile. This blog will cover book reviews and all manner of other bookish things.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.