In 1769, two ships set out in search of a missing continent: a French merchant ship and a small British naval vessel, The Endeavour, commanded by James Cook. That Christmas, in New Zealand waters, the two captains were almost within sight of each other, though neither knew of the other's existence.
Two ships set out in search of a missing continent: the St Jean-Baptiste, a French merchant ship commanded by Jean de Surville, and The Endeavour, a small British naval vessel captained by James Cook. Distinguished historian Geoffrey Blainey tells the story of these rival ships and the men who sailed in them. Just before Christmas 1769, the two captains were almost close enough to see one another - and yet they did not know of each other's existence. Both crews battled extreme hardships including scurvy, storms and loneliness; but they also experienced the euphoria of 'discovering' new lands, and the fascination of meeting peoples so different they may as well have come from separate worlds. This is the most revealing narrative so far written of Cook's astonishing voyage along the east coast of Australia. It also casts new light on the little-known voyage by Jean de Surville; Blainey argues that the Frenchman was in the vicinity of Sydney Harbour months before Cook arrived.
Historian Geoffrey Blainey's books include The Tyranny of Distance, Triumph of the Nomads, Black Kettle and Full Moon, A Short History of the 20th Century, and the best-selling A Short History of the World.
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