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The Last Voyage of Captain Cook: Including the Siberian Journals and Selected Letters of John Ledyardby John Ledyard
Synopses & Reviews
Meet John Ledyard, perhaps the greatest little-known explorer in American history. Ledyard (1751-1789) sailed with Capt. James Cook, formed a fur trading company with John Paul Jones, and dreamed, with Thomas Jerfferson, of walking across United States 20 years before Lewis and Clark set off on their famous expedition. Ledyard's journals, letters, and one published book, collected for the first time in one volume, showcase the uncontainable wanderlust of a unique American spirit. A Journal of Captain's Cook Last Voyage is the only account of Cook's third voyage to be published by an American. It is a vivid record of life aboard the first ship to sail to the Hawaiian islands and Cook's violent death on Hawaiian beach. Ledyard's Siberian journals recount a harrowing journey through Russia under the rule of Catherine the Great, while his diary from Alexandria and Cairo provides a brilliant and rare account of Egypt before Napoleon's invasion. Finally, Ledyard's correspondence sheds light on pre-revolutionary Paris and on his friendships with the Marquis de Lafayette, Benjamin Franklin, and Sir Jospeh Banks. In his short life, John Ledyard traveled farther than any American had before. His writings are an invitation to savor the romance of exploration and the wonder of discovery.
The colorful writing of John Ledyard--possibly the greatest and least-known explorer of the eighteenth century--is collected for the first time in this volume, featuring firsthand accounts of the murder of Captain Cook and one of the earliest crossings of Siberia.
About the Author
John Ledyard (1751-1789), a native of Groton Connecticut, left Dartmouth College at age 19 to travel to England and eventually sign on with James Cook's final voyage in 1775. He returned to Europe to form fast friendships with Thomas Jefferson, John Paul Jones, and Thomas Paine. He explored Siberia, becoming the first American to do so, and was chosen to lead an expedition to find the source of the Nile. It was on this expedition, in 1789 in which Ledyard died in Cairo at age 38. John Ledyard was the original Lewis and Clark Expedition. In 1786 Thomas Jefferson sent him to explore the American West. He was the first white American to see the Northwest coast of America, Alaska and Hawaii, as well as the first to visit Siberia. He wrote the only known account of the death of Captain James Cook that blamed his death not on the Hawaiians but on Cook himself. William F. Buckley wrote in the New York Times Book Review in 2000, that Ledyard's writing was "loaded with moral and institutional wisdom... the reader is caught up at once in the narrative and the young seamen's stylistic finesse." James Zug is the author of Squash: A History of the Game (Scribner, 2003). In March 2005 he will publish Great With Desire, the first full-length biography of John Ledyard in nearly 200 years. Zug lives in Washington DC with his wife and son.
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