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roaming freely throughout the universe

Of small to medium size and thickness ,peppered with footnotes , illustrations and sometimes translations and scientific tables , this is a fascinating book crammed with detailed information that examines Nicolas Baudin’s voyage to Australia from France 1800-1804 and the attitude towards science and how it could be influenced by politics , the scientific voyagers, their work and its legacy.There is a table of contents at the front and notes and an index at the back. Edited by Jean Fornasiero and John West-Sooby , the book is divided into three parts and fifteen chapters , each written by a different author.

It is a fascinating examination of various aspects of Baudin’s voyage.The book looks at how The Age of Exploration not only paved the way for European conquest and trade, it also widened the horizons of science and was at the tail end of the Age of Enlightenment. By the second half of the eighteenth century, the link between travel and science was so widely acknowledged that it had become routine practice to include naturalists in all major voyages of exploration.(look at Cook’s voyage on the Endeavour with Joseph Banks ).

At the time, there was quite a distinction made between the scientific explorers who travelled and observed things in situ and those who stayed home and analysed items later.The political situation and attitude towards science was also changing with Napoleon looming in the background. And not forgetting the French scientific and exploratory battles with the British, both regarding each other with disdain.

There is also a detailed discussion of Baudin’s relationship with Francois Peron(the zoologist who became the expedition’s leading scientist) – have records been ‘accidentally on purpose” lost? Were some of Baudin’s notes and works obscured or changed by Peron?.

The voyage saw the further development of for example botany, zoology, cartography, mineralogy, astronomy and anthropology .There was a huge team of scientists and artists on board .Chapters are devoted to the coverage of the massive collection of birdlife , and especially an albatross ( this is before Coleridge’s poem ) as well as illustrations,tables and listings of a multitude of animals , crustaceans ,arachnids, insects , echinoderms ,plants and other items.

The preservation of this huge collection until the return to France caused some major hassles at times.

What is considerably chilling is the analysis of Peron’s descriptions,interactions and quite racist measurements of the indigenous peoples he encountered (scarily almost Nazi like , determining which peoples were ‘ weaker ‘ ) – there was no understanding that the land was really theirs , and like the Stolen Generations here , how various Indigenous peoples were forcibly ‘civilized ‘.

The voyage saw the further development of for example botany, zoology, cartography, mineralogy, astronomy and anthropology.

Part Four of the book has four chapters , each outlining the life ,times ,work and relationships with Baudin and Peron of four of their colleagues – Jacques Felix Emmanuel Hamelin, ( commandant of the consort ship of the voyage )Theodore Leschenault (botanist) , Stanislas Levillain ( hunter and taxidermist) and Louis Freycinet and his notes and descriptions of Indigenous peoples at Port Jackson .
The book also looks at the translation and preservation of the records available (it is eventually planned to have all of them accessible on line but this will take years more work). A fascinating , detailed analysis of French/Australian maritime history and scientific exploration.
Edited by Jean Fornasiero and John West-Sooby
Contributors: Gabrielle Baglione, Andrew Black, Jean-Luc Chappey, Cédric Crémière, Jean Fornasiero, John Gascoigne, Paul Gibbard, Philippa Horton, Michel Jangoux, Justin Jansen, Stephanie Pfennigwerth, Margaret Sankey, Nicole Starbuck, John West-Sooby. Editors Jean Fornasiero and John West-Sooby
ISBN-13 9781743058275
Format Paperback,
Publisher Wakefield Press
Publication date 9 Dec 2021
Pages 340
Product dimensions 156 x 234mm
Weight 570


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