Officer Of The Blue
French explorer Marion Dufresne was the man who reached Tasmania before the English. His expedition was the first to encounter the Tasmanian Aborigines and was a precursor of the great voyages of La Perouse, d'Entrecasteaux, Baudin and d'Urville.
To Australian and New Zealand readers this elegant biography will be, as Frank Horner writes, 'a reminder, or a revelation of the international context in which the English explorations of their homelands took place'. The eighteenth-century conflict between Britain and France is mirrored in Marion Dufresne's life.
The parallels with Cook are striking. Like his English contemporary, Marion was a brilliant mariner who proved his skills in merchant shipping before joining his nation's Royal Navy. Like Cook he was involved in scientific efforts to observe the Transit of Venus and sought the Southland in uncharted waters. Finally, he too died tragically at the hands of Polynesians.