Two hundred and fifty years ago Captain James Cook, during his extraordinary voyages of navigation and maritime exploration, searched for Antarctica – the Unknown Southern Continent. During parts of his three voyages in the southern Pacific and Southern Oceans, Cook ‘narrowed the options’ for the location of Antarctica. Over three summers, he completed a circumnavigation of portions of the Southern Continent, encountering impenetrable barriers of ice, and he suggested the continent existed, a frozen land not populated by a living soul. Yet his Antarctic voyages are perhaps the least studied of all his remarkable travels. That is why James Hamilton’s gripping and scholarly study, which brings together the stories of Cook’s Antarctic journeys into a single volume, is such an original and timely addition to the literature on Cook and eighteenth-century exploration.
Using Cook's journals and the log books of officers who sailed with him, the book sets his Antarctic explorations within the context of his historic voyages. The main focus is on the Second Voyage (1772-1775), but brief episodes in the First Voyage (during 1769) and the Third Voyage (1776) are part of the story. Throughout the narrative Cook’s exceptional seamanship and navigational skills, and that of his crew, are displayed during often-difficult passages in foul weather across uncharted and inhospitable seas.
Captain James Cook and the Search for Antarctica offers the reader a fascinating insight into Cook the seaman and explorer, and it will be essential reading for anyone who has a particular interest the history of the Southern Continent.
Dr James Hamilton is a professional historian and retired administrator who earned his PhD in British and European history at the University of Iowa. He has a long-standing interest in the voyages of Captain Cook and has published many articles on his Antarctica and Sub-Antarctic travels in Cook's Log, the quarterly journal of the Captain Cook Society. In addition to his special interest in Captain Cook, he is a keen stamp collector and philatelist and he has contributed to the New CartoPhilatelic Journal and American Philatelist.