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The three voyages of maritime exploration undertaken by Captain James Cook from 1768 to 1779 are perhaps the most famous of any in history. Filled with high drama, tragedy, intrigue, and humor, their stories have been told and retold for centuries. Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, investigates their enduring appeal by pairing the latest scholarly insights with extensive visual resources focusing on the people, places, and events of the voyages.
Jacobs is the author of several books, including The Compensations of Plunder: How China Lost Its Treasures. He recently completed a 24-episode series on UNESCO World Heritage Sites for The Great Courses and is currently conducting research on the voyages of Captain Cook in the Pacific.
Cook's First Voyage
In 1768, an unknown British lieutenant named James Cook set off on a daunting maritime expedition around the world. By the time it was over, Cook had observed the transit of Venus in newly rediscovered Tahiti, charted the coastlines of New Zealand, re-established contact with isolated Polynesian societies, and survived a near shipwreck on the Great Barrier Reef off the eastern coast of Australia. Jacobs revisits one of the most famous maritime voyages in world history by leveraging the latest scholarly insights to place the events of Cook’s first expedition into its proper historical context.
Justin Jacobs is also lecturing on these maritime topics in March 2022:
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