Moorehead has followed up his fascinating trek into Africa (see The Blue Nile and The White Nile), with a short, but equally...

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THE FATAL IMPACT

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.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1966