The Fatal Impact

The Fatal Impact

3.93 (140 ratings by Goodreads)
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When Captain Cook entered the Pacific in 1769, it was a virgin ocean, pristine and savage, and its inhabitants lived a life of primeval innocence. Seventy years later, firearms, disease and alcohol had hammered away at this way of life until it crumbled before them, and where satan had sown. the protestant missionaries reaped. In this work, Alan Moorehead tells the tragic story of a great adventure which turned sour, in which good intentions led to disaster, corruption and annihilation. And ironically it was Cook, the greatest and most humane explorer of his day, who was to cause the fatal more

Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 134.62 x 205.74 x 15.24mm | 340.19g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • 0141390298
  • 9780141390291

Review Text

Moorehead has followed up his fascinating trek into Africa (see The Blue Nile and The White Nile), with a short, but equally elegant "account of the invasion of the South Pacific, 1761-1840." The hero here, of course, is Captain James Cook, with Moorehead concentrating on the voyage to Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia, and the later exploration of the Antarctic Circle and the South Pole. As he acknowledges, Moorehead has drawn heavily on the historian Dr. J. C. Beaglehole's definitive volumes, as well as from other weighty sources. But this should not dismay the layman. Moorehead has the novelist's eye, not only in his firm but sensuous descriptions, but also in his stunning ability to evoke character, interweave various tales, and see a Jumble of facts and conjectures as a means of releasing whatever dramatic moments are around. And the confrontation between aggressive Europeans and innocent primitive tribes affords ample opportunity. Essentially the book isa requiem for an idyllic past, moving in its picture of a wild civilization slowly eroding under the impact of commercial progress or geographical expansion, exciting in its interplay of differing psychological attitudes or customs, and developed with many criss-crossing references: Bougainville and Banks, Melville and Gauguin, the Bounty mutiny, and the little known efforts of the Englishwoman Daisy Bates to save the Aborigines. A lovely and sophisticated work. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

140 ratings
3.93 out of 5 stars
5 25% (35)
4 49% (68)
3 23% (32)
2 2% (3)
1 1% (2)
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