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About Nicholas Thomas
Nicholas Thomas, who grew up in Sydney, visited the Pacific Islands first in 1984. He has written many acclaimed books about art, history and cross-cultural encounter, and collaborated in exhibition and book experiments with artists including John Pule and Mark Adams.
His books include Entangled Objects (1991), a celebrated exploration of the changing lives of things in the Pacific; Discoveries: the voyages of Captain Cook (2003); Islanders: the Pacific in the Age of Empire (2010) which was awarded the Wolfson History Prize; The Return of Curiosity (2016), about what museums offer today, and most recently Voyagers: the settlement of the Pacific (2021).
Thomas co-curated, with Peter Brunt and Adrian Locke, the landmark exhibition Oceania, shown at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac in Paris over 2018-19.
Nicholas Thomas lives in the Corbières, in the south of France and in London with his partner Annie Coombes, and their son.
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The first-ever illustrated account of Captain James Cook's epic eighteenth-century voyages, complete with excerpts from his vivid journals.
This is history's greatest adventure story. In 1766, the Royal Society chose prodigal mapmaker and navigator James Cook to lead a South Pacific voyage. His orders were to chart the path of Venus across the sun. That task completed, his ship, the HMS Endeavour, continued to comb the southern hemisphere for the imagined continent Terra Australis. The voyage lasted from 1768 to 1771, and upon Cook's return to London, his journaled accounts of the expedition made him a celebrity. After that came two more voyages for Cook and his crew, followed by Cook's untimely murder by natives in Hawaii. The Voyages of Captain James Cook reveals Cook's fascinating story through excerpts from his journals, as well as illustrations, photography, and supplementary writings.
During Cook's career, he logged more than 200,000 miles - nearly the distance to the moon. And along the way, scientists and artists traveling with him documented exotic flora and fauna, untouched landscapes, indigenous peoples, and much more. In addition to the South Pacific, Cook's voyages took him to South America, Antarctica, New Zealand, the Pacific Coast from California to Alaska, the Arctic Circle, Siberia, the East Indies, and the Indian Ocean. When he set out in 1768, more than one-third of the globe was unmapped. By the time Cook died in 1779, he had created charts so accurate that some were used into the 1990s.
The Voyages of Captain James Cook is a handsome illustrated edition of Cook's selected writings spanning his Pacific voyages, ending in 1779 with the delivery of his salted scalp and hands to his surviving crewmembers. It's bound to enthrall anyone who appreciates history, science, art, and classic adventure.
An award-winning scholar explores the sixty-thousand-year history of the Pacific islands in this dazzling, deeply researched account.
One of the Best Books of 2021 — Wall Street JournalThe islands of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia stretch across a huge expanse of ocean and encompass a multitude of different peoples. Starting with Captain James Cook, the earliest European explorers to visit the Pacific were astounded and perplexed to find populations thriving thousands of miles from continents. Who were these people? From where did they come? And how were they able to reach islands dispersed over such vast tracts of ocean? In Voyagers, the distinguished anthropologist Nicholas Thomas charts the course of the seaborne migrations that populated the islands between Asia and the Americas from late prehistory onward. Drawing on the latest research, including insights gained from genetics, linguistics, and archaeology, Thomas provides a dazzling account of these long-distance migrations, the seagoing technologies that enabled them, and the societies they left in their wake.
'A roaring tale ... remains as vivid and exciting today as it was on publication in 1697' Guardian
The pirate and adventurer William Dampier circumnavigated the globe three times, and took notes wherever he went. This is his frank, vivid account of his buccaneering sea voyages around the world, from the Caribbean to the Pacific and East Indies. Filled with accounts of raids, escapes, wrecks and storms, it also contains precise observations of people, places, animals and food (including the first English accounts of guacamole, mango chutney and chopsticks). A bestseller on publication, this unique record of the colonial age influenced Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels and consequently the whole of English literature.
Edited with an Introduction by Nicholas Thomas
Reflecting on art galleries, science and history institutions, and museums around the world, Thomas shows that in times marked by insecurity and increasing conflict, museums can help to sustain and enrich society. They stimulate a curiosity that is vital to understanding and negotiating the cosmopolitan but dangerous world we all now inhabit.
The Return of Curiosity is a book that anyone who visits and enjoys museums will find engaging and stimulating. Curators, arts and heritage professionals, policymakers and all museum studies teachers and students need to own and read this influential book.
An obscure colonial trader, Walker wrote to his mother in England from Australia, the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), and New Caledonia—and also from ships in between those places—during the 1870s and 1880s. Becke was a trader, too, but he was also a successful author of popular fiction that drew on his experiences in the Pacific. Written from Micronesia in the early 1880s, Becke’s letters are like Walker’s in that they report one setback after another. Both collections vividly evoke the day-to-day experiences of ordinary late-nineteenth-century colonists and open up new questions concerning the making and writing of selves on the colonial periphery.
Exposing insecurities in an epoch normally regarded as one of imperial triumph, Bad Colonists will appeal to students and scholars of anthropology, colonial history, cultural studies, and Pacific history and culture.