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Dumont d’Urville – Explorer and Polymath

$89.95 GST

Explorer Jules-Sebastien-Cesar Dumont d’Urville (1790-1842) is sometimes called France’s Captain Cook. Born less than a year after the beginning of the French Revolution, he lived through turbulent times. He was an erudite polymath: a maritime explorer fascinated by botany, entomology, ethnography, and the diverse languages of the world. As a young ensign, he was decorated for his pivotal part in France’s acquisition of the famous Venus de Milo. Dumont d’Urville’s voyages and writings meshed with an emergent French colonial impulse in the Pacific. This magnificent biography reveals that he had secret orders to search for the site for a potential French penal colony in Australia. The book examines Dumont d’Urville’s scientific contribution, including the plants and animals he collected, as well as his conceptualization of the peoples of the Pacific: it was he who first coined the terms Melanesia and Micronesia. He helped to confirm the fate of the missing French explorer Laperouse, took Charles X into exile after the Revolution of 1830, and crowned his navigational achievements with two pioneering Antarctic descents. The book uses primary documents that have long been overlooked by other historians. It dispels many myths and errors about this daring explorer of the age of sail and offers readers a grand adventure along with surprising drama and pathos.

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