Synopses & Reviews
This is a major biography of Dumont d'Urville, an explorer born in1790 who has been called the Captain Cook of France. The author has uncovered overlooked sources that document his early life and fillprevious gaps. d'Urville was personally involved in a huge variety of enterprises, from the bringing of the Venus di Milo for theLouvre, to the taking of French King Charles X into exile, to expeditions to Australia, New Zealand, and the Antarctic. As ascientific surveyer, he coined the terms Melanesia and Micronesia, and made extensive collections which helped French biologists build areputation that kept French-language guides to botany and zoology authoritative until the 20th century. He was also one of thebest-known travel writers in Europe. The book is notable for the author's discovery that d'Urville traveled to Australia under secretorders to find a site for a French penal colony. His explorations caused British colonialists to start settlements in several areas ofthe continent in order to preempt French colonialism. Though d'Urville showed a mix of individual respect and blatant racismtoward the native peoples he met, the author gives full attention to all the players in d'Urville's story, regardless of their ethnicity.The book is long, but straightforward; he was involved in so many episodes, and his personal life so marked by major events, thatthough he and his remaining family died young in the worst railway accident in Europe, the full story takes some time to tell.Annotation ©2015 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)
Explorer Jules-Sebastien-Cesar Dumont d'Urville (1790 1842) is sometimes called France's Captain Cook. Born less than a year after the beginning of the French Revolution, he lived through turbulent times. He was an erudite polymath: a maritime explorer fascinated by botany, entomology, ethnography and the diverse languages of the world. As a young ensign he was decorated for his pivotal part in France's acquisition of the famous Venus de Milo.
D'Urville's voyages and writings meshed with an emergent French colonial impulse in the Pacific. In this magnificent biography Edward Duyker reveals that D'Urville had secret orders to search for the site for a potential French penal colony in Australia. He also effectively helped to precipitate pre-emptive British settlement on several parts of the Australian coast. D'Urville visited New Zealand in 1824, 1827 and 1840. This wide-ranging survey examines his scientific contribution, including the plants and animals he collected, and his conceptualisation of the peoples of the Pacific: it was he who first coined the terms Melanesia and Micronesia.
D'Urville helped to confirm the fate of the missing French explorer Laperouse, took Charles X into exile after the Revolution of 1830, and crowned his navigational achievements with two pioneering Antarctic descents. Edward Duyker has used primary documents that have long been overlooked by other historians. He dispels many myths and errors about this daring explorer of the age of sail and offers his readers grand adventure and surprising drama and pathos.