A new interest in European maritime exploration was aroused with the publication of the first volume of J. C. Beaglehole's edition of The Journals of Captain James Cook in 1955. In the forty-odd years since then, our knowledge of this exploration-and of the imperialism of which it was a part-has expanded enormously.
We now recognise that the scientific endeavours, once seen as disinterested manifestations of the Enlightenment, actually had both strategic and commercial implications. And today much greater emphasis is given to the meanings fof early encounters for both the Natives of the Pacific islands and the Strangers from a European world.
Glyndwr Williams has played a leading role in the development of these new insights. Pacific Empires offers stimulating contributions by a number of his colleagues, all authorities in their respective fields. It is a timely examination of historical understandings at the end of the twentieth century.