Sir Joseph Banks: A Life

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9780002723404: Sir Joseph Banks: A Life

Sir Joseph Banks, botanist, explorer, President of the Royal Society and one of Australia's founding fathers, was among the most influential figures of the 18th and 19th centuries. As a young man, Sir Joseph Banks accompanied Captain Cook on his voyage of discovery to Australia; in later years he was instrumental in establishing Kew Gardens as the greatest botanical centre in the world, and he knew just about everybody who mattered in the scientific circles of the time. Patrick O'Brian's biography draws on much hitherto unpublished material. Far from being merely the colossus of science traditionally imagined, Joseph Banks emerges here as a warm-hearted enthusiast whose legacy survives not only in the record of his botanizing in the South Seas but in the development of the Australian continent and in the tenor and tradition of subsequent scientific enquiry.

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Review:

Joseph Banks (1743-1820) led a life of great adventure. As a naturalist, he accompanied Captain James Cook on expeditions to Australia and Tahiti, where he cataloged new species of plants and animals; as an explorer, he helped chart sea passages along the coast of Canada to the Arctic. He was also at the center of power in his time, enjoying an on-again, off-again friendship with King George III and cultivating acquaintances with the leading scientists and statesmen of his time. Patrick O'Brian, well known for his captivating seafaring novels, brings dramatic flair to retelling the incidents of Banks's life, which are closely tied to the expansion of the British empire.

From Library Journal:

O'Brian, creator of the popular fiction series depicting the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars, demonstrates his considerable research talents with this biography. Banks (1743-1820), who served for over 40 years as president of the Royal Society, Britain's oldest scientific institution, was the quintessential Englishman of this period. As a young botanist, Banks accompanied Captain Cook on a global voyage that culminated in the "discovery" of Australia. Later Banks helped to establish London's Kew Gardens as the world's greatest botanical center. A man of unusual energy and influence, he was instrumental in promoting the careers of other notable men. His considerable correspondence and journals have allowed O'Brian to write a solid biography that is rich in scholarship and engaging in style. Recommended for public libraries.
- Laurie Bartolini, Lin coln Lib., Springfield, Ill.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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