Magnificent Voyage: An American Adventurer on Captain James Cook's Final Expedition

by Laurie Lawlor

John Ledyard was a 24-year-old American in 1776 when he joined the British Royal... read more

John Ledyard was a 24-year-old American in 1776 when he joined the British Royal Navy in order to accompany the famed explorer Captain James Cook on his third voyage. His became one of the first published accounts of a journey that started with such great expectations and ended in tragedy. Laurie Lawlor’s spirited prose makes this account of what turned out to be Cook’s final voyage captivating. She often provides readers with Ledyard’s own acute observations on events as they went in search of a Northwest Passage to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in North America. Sailing south around Africa and up through the Pacific, Cook and his crew encountered many Native peoples, some of whom Cook had known of before, and some of whom were new to him. Ledyard’s accounts of those “exotic” people are remarkably favorable considering his own lack of exposure to other cultures and the general beliefs of the times. Often more disturbing to him—and others on the crew—was Cook’s erratic, often cruel behavior. On his previous voyages, he had been energetic and even-tempered, and Lawlor includes medical theories on what might have caused this change. Black-and-white illustrations and appendices providing additional information round out a fine work of nonfiction. (Ages 11-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2003

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