Jun 9, 2009

Popdcast: Captain Cook

A 54 minute Aussie ramble that's worth a listen.

Captain James Cook has been central to Australasian history for over two hundred years, but his significance has often been contested. Today we join a symposium at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra with the authors of four new books about James Cook.

What is it about Captain Cook that continues to fascinate writers? He has been the subject of several biographies, and much of his life is well known: his humble origins in Yorkshire, his skill as a cartographer, his shipboard journal, his return voyages to the Pacific and eventual death in Hawaii in 1779.

Recent attention has focused closely on the detail of his life: his emergence as a writer with the Endeavour journal, the real conditions of daily life on board ship, the simultaneous explorations of the French captain Jean de Surville and, crucially, the significance of the eight-day encounter between Cook and the Indigenous people of Botany Bay.

The National Museum of Australia symposium brought together five writers who've taken up the challenge of writing about Cook, to share their views with an enthusiastic Canberra audience.

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