The Enlightenment was an age of endeavors, with Britain consumed by the impulse for grand projects undertaken at speed. Moore writes a comprehensive account of the Endeavour's role in shaping the Western world.
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.