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Blue Latitudes
by Tony Horwitz

This is a seamless blend of history and travelogue, with a cheeky edge. As the subtitle ("Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before") suggests, the author visits many of the places that Captain James Cook saw during his 3 great voyages of discovery in the Pacific between 1768 and 1779. This narrative device is hardly new. Rather, it has become a staple of books and TV documentaries alike.

Tony Horwitz is a skilled practitioner of the genre. This book is both informative and entertaining. Most importantly, his travels are not superfluous self-indulgence. Instead, they uncover valuable perspectives on Cook and his voyages, particularly through conversations with local historians, Cook enthusiasts, and descendants of the indigenous peoples whom Cook met.

The author has a memorable travelling companion in Roger Williamson, a hard-drinking, cynical Australian originally from Yorkshire, England. Their misadventures at a raucous Cook festival in a small Australian town is an especially priceless vignette.

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