The Wide Wide Sea: An Evening with Hampton Sides

We are thrilled to host renowned author Hampton Sides for a discussion featuring his new book, The Wide Wide Sea: Imperial Ambition, First Contact and the Fateful Final Voyage of Captain James Cook. From the New York Times bestselling author, an epic account of the most momentous voyage of the Age of Exploration, which culminated in Captain James Cook’s death in Hawaii, and left a complex and controversial legacy still debated to this day. At once a ferociously-paced story of adventure on the high seas and a searching examination of the complexities and consequences of the Age of Exploration, The Wide Wide Sea is a major work from one of our finest narrative nonfiction writers. 

This event is free with registration. To register, please CLICK HERE

More About the Book: Hampton Sides’ bravura account of Cook’s last journey both wrestles with Cook’s legacy and provides a thrilling narrative of the titanic efforts and continual danger that characterized exploration in the 1700s. Cook was renowned for his peerless seamanship, his humane leadership, and his dedication to science-–the famed naturalist Joseph Banks accompanied him on his first voyage, and Cook has been called one of the most important figures of the Age of Enlightenment. He was also deeply interested in the native people he encountered. In fact, his stated mission was to return a Tahitian man, Mai, who had become the toast of London, to his home islands. On previous expeditions, Cook mapped huge swaths of the Pacific, including the east coast of Australia, and initiated first European contact with numerous peoples. He treated his crew well and endeavored to learn about the societies he encountered with curiosity and without judgment.

Yet something was different on this last voyage. Cook became mercurial, resorting to the lash to enforce discipline, and led his two vessels into danger time and again. Uncharacteristically, he ordered violent retaliation for perceived theft on the part of native peoples. This may have had something to do with his secret orders, which were to chart and claim lands before Britain’s imperial rivals could, and to discover the fabled Northwest Passage. Whatever Cook’s intentions, his scientific efforts were the sharp edge of the colonial sword, and the ultimate effects of first contact were catastrophic for Indigenous people around the world. The tensions between Cook’s overt and covert missions came to a head on the shores of Hawaii. His first landing there was harmonious, but when Cook returned after mapping the coast of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, his exploitative treatment of the Hawaiians led to the fatal encounter.

Kirkus Reviews, in a starred review, says, “An acclaimed historian takes to the sea in this rousing tale of exploration ... Sides draws on numerous contemporaneous sources to create a fascinating, immersive adventure story featuring just the right amount of historical context … Lusciously detailed and insightful history, masterfully told.” 

More About the Author:  Hampton Sides is an award-winning editor of Outside and the author of the bestselling histories Hellhound on his Trial, Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers. He lives in New Mexico with his wife, Anne, and their three sons.

Event date: 

Monday, April 15, 2024 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Event address: 

The Book Stall
811 Elm Street
Winnetka, IL 60093
The Wide Wide Sea: Imperial Ambition, First Contact and the Fateful Final Voyage of Captain James Cook By Hampton Sides Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780385544764
Availability: On Our Shelves Now--Subject to Availability
Published: Doubleday - April 9th, 2024

From New York Times bestselling author Hampton Sides, an epic account of the most momentous voyage of the Age of Exploration, which culminated in Captain James Cook’s death in Hawaii, and left a complex and controversial legacy still debated to this day.