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One of our greatest writers about the sea has written an engrossing story of one of history's most legendary maritime explorers. Patrick O'Brian's biography of naturalist, explorer and co-founder of Australia, Joseph Banks, is narrative history at its finest. Published to rave reviews, it reveals Banks to be a man of enduring importance, and establishes itself as a classic of exploration. "It is in his description of that arduous three-year voyage [on the ship Endeavor] that Mr. O'Brian is at his most brilliant...He makes us understand what life within this wooden world was like, with its 94 male souls, two dogs, a cat and a goat."--Linda Colley, New York Times "An absorbing, finely written overview, meant for the general reader, of a major figure in the history of natural science."--Frank Stewart, Los Angeles Times "[This book is] the definitive biography of an extraordinary subject."--Robert Taylor, Boston Globe "His skill at narrative and his extensive knowledge of the maritime history ...give him a definite leg up in telling this ...story."--Tom Clark, San Francisco Chronicle
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Table of Contents

Preface 1: Origins. Education. Botany 2: Newfoundland and Labrador 3: The Royal Society. Solander. the Endeavour Voyage 4: Tahiti and the Transit of Venus 5: New Zealand. Botany Bay and the Great Barrier Reef 6: Home Again. Resolution. Iceland 7: The Great Florilegium. Omai. Soho Square 8: President of the Royal Society. Marriage. the King and Kew. Botany Bay 9: HM's Sheep. Plant Collectors. Bligh and Bounty. Revolution in France 10: War. New South Wales. the Privy Council 11: Trouble in Sydney and Iceland. Declining Health. the End 12: His Will, and some Letters Notes Bibliography Index


O'Brian, creator of the popular fiction series depicting the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars, demonstrates his considerable research talents with this biography. Banks (1743-1820), who served for over 40 years as president of the Royal Society, Britain's oldest scientific institution, was the quintessential Englishman of this period. As a young botanist, Banks accompanied Captain Cook on a global voyage that culminated in the ``discovery'' of Australia. Later Banks helped to establish London's Kew Gardens as the world's greatest botanical center. A man of unusual energy and influence, he was instrumental in promoting the careers of other notable men. His considerable correspondence and journals have allowed O'Brian to write a solid biography that is rich in scholarship and engaging in style. Recommended for public libraries.-- Laurie Bartolini, Lin coln Lib., Springfield, Ill.

In this bustling and arty portrait, English biographer O'Brian, author of the Aubrey-Maturin historical seafaring series, depicts naturalist and explorer Joseph Banks (1743-1820) as a man of unflagging energy and intellectual curiosity. Banks explored Newfoundland and Iceland, developed Kew Gardens into a major botanical center, presided over the Royal Society, accompanied Capt. James Cook on his first voyage around the world and spurred the colonization of Australia as a penal colony. He also concocted the scheme to transplant breadfruit from the South Seas to Jamaica on Captain William Bligh's Bounty , a plan that resulted in the famous mutiny. Amiable, kind and unprejudiced toward the Polynesians he encountered on his travels, Banks is described as ``in some ways a curiously impersonal man'' whose inner self remains hidden even in his seafaring journals, excerpts from which appear in this elegant biography cum spirited adventure. Illustrated. Reader's Subscription Book Club and Garden Book Club alternates. (Feb.)

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