Book reviews

Perceptive notes adorn early explorer's intimate letters

A tantalising absence manifests in Miriam Estensen’s The Letters of George and Elizabeth Bass – not the disappearance of George, which is an enduring, tragic mystery, but the lack of… Read more

Skewed map holds the
key to early exploration

Peter Trickett’s intriguing Beyond Capricorn is going to make great television, laden as it is with ships, adventure, stolen maps, secret missions and plenty of mystery. Parts of his book… Read more

A dinghy floats ashore with a moral dilemma...

Books that are preceded by tales of large advances and bidding wars carry the awkward freight of raised expectations. A reviewer feels like a juror instructed to forget prior knowledge… Read more

Sea chase to catch toothfish trawler

The Patagonian toothfish, also called the Chilean sea bass, is a strange, deep-sea fish prized for its firm white flesh that is rapidly being fished toward extinction. As their numbers… Read more

Myth the medium of refraction

It’s an idle pleasure to imagine our lives as art - a friend’s love affair pitched as an opera plot or beautiful lunch companions painted on canvas. For the voyagers… Read more

Diving for pearls - a young man's adventure

Diving for pearls is the kind of adventure that appeals to many young people tired of classrooms and study, promising sunshine, limpid water, romance and treasure. Of course, it’s not… Read more

Blurred boundaries in an imagined life

Novelists, unlike nature, adore a vacuum. The gaping hole of the unknown has an attractive force beyond compulsion. If there are uncertainties in stories or some small discrepancy in evidence,… Read more

Blainey takes stock of Cook's east coast voyage

Several elements of Geoffrey Blainey’s new book are tugged about as though worried by mischievous gusts of wind. Three propositions are canvassed: the extraordinary coincidence that placed James Cook’s Endeavour,… Read more
To find a review not visible on this page, search by title, author or keyword in the search box above

… there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

- Ratty to Mole in The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame