Secondhand Rows 

Join Stephen Reid, our secondhand maestro, every month here as he takes a closer look at a couple of titles from his shelves.

August 2018

 - Friday, July 27, 2018
The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768-1771 Volumes I & II
Public Library of New South Wales with Angus & Robertson, Sydney (1962). 880pp, 80 b/w & 18 colour illustrations.
Very Good Hardbacks & Slightly scuffed and marked Dust jackets. $250.00.
Three Hundred and Fifty years ago this month, a young man took quill to paper and wrote the first entry in his journal of the sea voyage he was about to undertake:
25 August 1768. After having waited in this place ten days, the ship, and everything belonging to me, being all that time in perfect readyness to sail at a moments warning, we at last got a fair wind, and this day at 3 O’Clock in the even weigd anchor, and set sail, all in excellent health and spirits perfectly prepared (in Mind at least) to undergo with Chearfullness any fatigues or dangers that may occur in our intended Voyage. The young man was 25-year-old botanist, Joseph Banks (1743-1820). When the Royal Society persuaded the Admiralty to send Captain James Cook in HMS Endeavour to undertake an expedition to observe the transit of Venus, it recommended that ‘Joseph Banks … a Gentleman of large fortune … well versed in natural history’ should be permitted to join the expedition with his Suite’. Banks had a staff of eight, including fellow naturalist Daniel Solander and landscape and natural history artist Sydney Parkinson. Banks took along ‘a fine Library of Natural History Natural History … all sorts of machines for catching and preserving insects; all kinds of nets, trawls, drags and hooks for coral fishing.’ This journal relates his travels and adventures in Brazil, Tierra del Fuego, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia & the East Indies.
The editor J. C. Beaglehole, includes a 120-page biographical sketch of the young Banks which details his life up to his election of President of the Royal Society. These volumes also contain maps and 80 black and white and colour plates of Sydney Parkinson’s botanical, zoological and ethnographical illustrations.
Further Reading: Joseph Banks: A Life by Patrick O’Brian (1987).


Glorious Misadventures: Nikolai Rezanov & the Dream of a Russian America by Owen Matthews ($20, HB)
Previous to the recent Russian raid on the US voting system (or not...not as Trump would(n’t) have it), at the dawn of the 19th century Russia was eyeing the prize of America’s Pacific Northwest coast. The Russian American Company, led by aristocratic adventurer Nikolai Rezanov, envisioned transforming fur-hunting stations on the Alaskan coast into the hub of a Pacific empire stretching from Siberia to California—across the endless Russian steppes, by sea to Alaska and down to San Francisco Bay. Despite being saddled with men who were unreliable, disorderly, dissolute and disease-ridden in 1806—just as Lewis & Clark were discovering the Columbia River to the north—Rezanov came very close to realising his dream. Newsweek’s Moscow bureau chief, Owen Matthews brings this story of mad colonial ambition to life with vivid first-hand accounts and his own experience travelling across Russia.


To The Edge of The World: The Story of the Trans-Siberian Railway by Christian Wolmar ($20, HB)
...later that century in May 1891, Tsar Alexander III sends his son to Vladivostok to lay the first stone of a vast Trans-Siberian railway line. Completed 26 years later, it was a huge engineering achievement, crossing 7 times zones & 5,750 miles. At great cost the railway modernised Russia, uniting a divided country. However it also sparked war with Japan in 1904, played a crucial role in the Russian civil war, when Trotsky used an armoured train to fight counter-revolutionary forces, and was the means by which exiles in their millions were sent to Siberian labour camps. Rail historian, Christian Wolmar, presents a complete exploration of the railway’s construction, and its impact on Russian society & relations with its neighbours.