Moore’s elegant and entertaining new book offers us a fascinating biography of the Endeavour, using it as a window onto the broader world of the mid-18th-century English Enlightenment ... Moore has researched the culture of Whitby boat building extensively and is able to make technical details sparkle for the general reader ... Unsurprisingly, Moore’s account of the vessel’s second incarnation is the part of the book that adds least to our knowledge because this subject has been so extensively researched already ... a beautifully crafted book, but it does at times overreach itself ... 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.
Following the ship’s travels gives us a wonderful window onto an age, the Age of Reason and Exploration. Moore shows that Cook’s voyages had nothing to do with exploitation, let alone 'white supremacy' (a recent invention), but were thrillingly open-minded, keen for the rewards of trade and the increase of knowledge, and what one contemporary called 'the general benefit of mankind' ... a dazzling combination of science and adventure, lyrically evocative descriptions of lush tropical landscapes and salt-stung seascapes, and a portrait of an age of 'magnificent geniality' ... an absolute joy from start to finish, and surely my history book of the year.
In learning about one boat’s world-straddling feats, readers also learn about the impetuous spirit that transformed society during the decades she sailed ... With an acute eye, Moore limns the conflicting human impulses in the first episodes of this epoch-making drama. Maritime history that opens onto much more.
[Moore] 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 ... Moore gives a balanced account of Endeavour’s cultural afterlife ... Moore’s richly detailed book is an engrossing love letter to a word, an attitude and a ship: it is an endeavour that honours Endeavour, without denying the death and destruction that followed in her wake.
Moore gives us a wonderful biography of a ship while shedding light on the culture that shaped and surrounded it ... With exquisite prose, Moore captures the atmosphere as that small container of Britishness headed south ... n extraordinary book about an unlikely ship that defined an age. The book reminded me of one of those opulent 18th-century feasts enjoyed by King George — endless exotic dishes all delivered with exquisite style. Like the age it recounts, it is a book of energy, creativity and self-confidence.
Moore has found himself the perfect symbols and focus for that ‘mini epoch’ of push, ambition and ‘endeavour’ that coincided with the ship’s chequered 14-year existence ... He never loses sight of the vessel, but it is the wider context that brings a familiar story to life ... the same brave wind that filled Endeavour’s sails blows through this book and it is hard to resist.
In writing the biography of an insentient object, Peter Moore, author of Endeavour: The Ship That Changed the World, set himself a challenging task. But in the early chapters Mr. Moore, whose last book chronicled Britain’s early atmospheric scientists, draws the reader in with lively prose ... While Mr. Moore has written an engaging, well-researched narrative, little else of substance is fresh, including the extravagant claim of its subtitle—that Endeavour 'changed the world.'
... splendid ... A sign of our times is that contemporary history books are weighted heavily with critical judgments about prominent figures based on the assumption that our modern values and morality, higher and more sensitive in every way, trump theirs...Moore’s book charts a course less followed, while still pointing out that Captain Cook’s Endeavour was not and is not viewed as benign by all ... The book’s ultimate point, though, is well made.
Endeavour was much less elegant than is Mr Moore’s immersive account of her life ... This enjoyable book breathes life into characters better remembered for their namesakes than themselves: Tasman (Tasmania), Louis Antoine de Bougainville (bougainvillea) and Carl Linnaeus (Linnaean classification).
... dense but enlightening ... goes well beyond simple history or a mere tracking of the Endeavour’s exploits. Though the minutiae may seem daunting at first, readers should stick with it, as the narrative transforms into a page-turning, breathtaking adventure story for the ages ... History at its most exciting and revealing.