Patrick O'Brian Joseph Banks: A Life

ISBN 13: 9780879239305

Joseph Banks: A Life

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Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), was a naturalist, explorer, president for more than forty years of the Royal Society, Britain's oldest scientific institution, and one of Australia's founding fathers. He first rose to fame when, as a young botanist, he accompanied Captain Cook on his epic circumnavigation that resulted in the discovery of Australia. He was a central figure in a generation that transformed an insular monarchy into a modern industrial powerhouse. Yet a complete picture of Banks's long life has never emerged from the vast archive left at his death.
The young Banks sailed on expeditions to North America and Iceland as well as the Pacific; he was also instrumental in establishing Kew Gardens as one of the world's greatest botanical centers. An indefatigable correspondent, he had a wide circle of friends and associates, including Cuvier, Watt, Samuel Johnson, and Edward Gibbon.
Patrick O'Brian's masterful biography, which makes full use of Banks's letters and journals (some hitherto unknown), brings from the shadows a man of enduring importance. Banks emerges as a cheerful, forthright, and hospitable man whose true genius lay in promoting the enthusiasms of others. His legacy survives not only in his magnificent Florilegium, the record of his botanical studies in the South Seas, but in the development of the Australian continent and the tenor and tradition of subsequent scientific enterprise. Joseph Banks: A Life, gracefully written by one of England's prose masters, provides a fascinating overview of a full and important life.

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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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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780226616285: Joseph Banks: A Life

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0226616282 ISBN 13:  9780226616285
Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 1997
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9780002723404: Sir Joseph Banks: A Life

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Softcover

9780002173506: Joseph Banks: A Life

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