The Rattlesnake: A Voyage of Discovery to the Coral Sea by Jordan Goodman; The English Dane by Sarah Bakewell - review by Andrew Taylor

Andrew Taylor

Uncharted Waters

The Rattlesnake: A Voyage of Discovery to the Coral Sea

By

Faber & Faber 347pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

The English Dane

By

Chatto & Windus 324pp £18.99 order from our bookshop
 

It’s refreshing, and unusual, to pick up a couple of books about travel and exploration that don’t leave the reader feeling slightly battered and inadequate. Who are these people who fill the pages with their determination, bravery and derring-do, and who greet each new disaster and discovery with a finely turned and incisive comment in their diaries?

Well, in these books we find out that the heroes are often no better than we are. The senior officers and scientists on board the Rattlesnake, as she headed for the southern seas in the mid nineteenth century, found little better to say about Madeira – for many of them,

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