The Oldie - - HISTORY -

PETER MOORE Chatto, 420pp, £20, Oldie price £13.34 inc p&p

Be­gin­ning her life as a Whitby col­lier, the En­deav­our was the ship in which Cap­tain Cook sailed to Aus­tralia and

‘A calmly writ­ten, fair-minded but ul­ti­mately an­gry ac­count’

New Zealand on his first voy­age of ex­plo­ration from 1768 to 1771, and later served as a Bri­tish trans­port ship dur­ing the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion. Peter Moore ‘finds a form for his in­quiries in the 18th-cen­tury vogue for “it-bi­ogra­phies”: ac­counts of the lives of real or fic­tional ob­jects, such as coins, coaches and walk­ing canes, wrote Ruth Scurr in the Guardian. ‘He fo­cuses on the wood that be­came the ship En­deav­our, and in do­ing so is able to con­nect a far-flung cast of char­ac­ters and places, pulling into his story politi­cians, philoso­phers, sailors, ship-builders and the nat­u­ral his­tory of Bri­tain, Aus­tralia and New Zealand.’ For Robert May­hew, in Literary

Re­view, this is ‘a beau­ti­fully crafted book, but it does at times over­reach it­self. Moore’s de­pic­tion of the

En­deav­our as “one of the most sig­nif­i­cant ob­jects of the en­tire En­light­en­ment” is a par­don­able ex­ag­ger­a­tion. But he also tries to

frame the En­light­en­ment as a whole as a “cul­ture of en­deav­our”, a sim­pli­fi­ca­tion that is un­con­vinc­ing (it also re­sults in the rather clunky sub­ti­tle of the book)… [since] there were many other en­light­en­ments too – cler­i­cal, con­ser­va­tive, rad­i­cal and satir­i­cal, to name a few. Broad­bot­tomed as a Whitby col­lier may be, it can­not be asked to carry such a his­tor­i­cal bur­den. Quib­bles aside, how­ever, En­deav­our is a deeply sat­is­fy­ing book. It rep­re­sents an in­tel­li­gent, di­verse, fresh and chal­leng­ing ap­proach to writ­ing the his­tory of ex­plo­ration. Pay­ing homage to the re­mark­able lives of a sin­gle ves­sel, Peter Moore also gives the En­deav­our a new lease of life long after its sink­ing.’

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