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This time the many times told tragedy of the violent end of Captain Cook at the hands of the natives of Hawaii is put into the form of a novel, told in the first person by Midshipman John Forrest, who acted as Cook's clerk. It is an absorbing tale, whether or not it is familiar in its essentials. Bushuell has given it full panoply of descriptive effects, as the meeting of the British expedition and the credulous natives becomes a ritualistic ceremony to welcome back the God Lono??, who long years before had brought the islanders great benefits. The reader experiences with the company aboard the Resolution and Discovery the lavish generosity poured out upon the strangers, the elaborate ceremonies, exhausting to the principals, the orgy of intoxication and sex when the men ignore Captain Cook's warning as to restraint and moderation. The scourge of disease is rapidly inflicted on the innocent and the guilty alike. The people begin to feel the pinch of want as they strip them selves of their stores. And then, still high in favor, the British sail away - only to return after taking fearful punishment in a storm. The strain has brought feelings on board to high pitch. A censorious small unit, assuming frailties of Captain Cook's which had no basis, and building on that their dismay at his acceptance of the status of a god, while scorning the trappings of religious faith, the unreasoning belief in a divine being - had created friction and fear among the men. How much ground there is for the exploration of this situation, the open quarrel that preceded the final disaster on shore I would not know. The story ends with the murder of Cook and the departure of the saddened expedition. The main figures are historical - the details of the story rest on the journals which brought events almost to their climax. Holding. (Kirkus Reviews)
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