THE SE­CRET LIFE OF JAMES COOK

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - BOOKS - By Graeme Lay Harper Collins War­ren Brewer

Writer and edi­tor Graeme Lay has long showed an in­ter­est in the his­tory of the South Pacifi c.

In­evitably, the mo­men­tous his­tor­i­cal pres­ence of Cap­tain James Cook would have crossed his path.

The fi rst bi­og­ra­phy of James Cook ap­peared in 1788 al­most 10 years af­ter his mur­der in Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii. Hun­dreds of ac­counts have since fol­lowed.

The hid­den face on the cover of the book is a per­ti­nent state­ment. Cook’s per­son­al­ity re­mains an enigma.

His ob­ses­sions and as­ceti­cism have long puz­zled his­to­ri­ans. Can we re­ally know the in­ner­most thoughts, emo­tions and mo­ti­va­tions of any in­di­vid­ual?

This co­nun­drum has ob­vi­ously piqued Lay’s imag­i­na­tion. His re­sponse here is not idle spec­u­la­tion.

The author has clev­erly wo­ven fact and fi ction in such a man­ner that this ac­count com­bines the syn­er­getic forces of logic and ve­rac­ity.

The spec­u­la­tive and in­ven­tive di­men­sion here emerges in the form of Cook’s se­cret jour­nal for his wife’s eyes only.

It is a sub­stan­tial com­po­nent of the story. In th­ese jour­nal en­tries he shares his very per­sonal anx­i­eties and ex­presses his en­dear­ments to his wife and chil­dren. Deeply felt love and com­pas­sion have not pre­vi­ously been ap­par­ent among Cook’s psy­cho­log­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Apart from the in­spi­ra­tional story of the fi rst jour­ney of the En­deav­our, many of the hu­man in­sights cre­ated here adds a spe­cial di­men­sion for read­ers.

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