William Gooch died at Waimea on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian chain.
Pahupu, Hawaiian warriors 'cut-in-two' by their tattoos, killed him there.
He was only twenty-two. Gooch's is a short life indeed on which to base a book.
But Greg Dening uses the incident of his murder as the basis for a penetrating study of historical narrative and meaning.
Gooch, the young astronomer on board the Daedalus, is written into history through the perceptions and intentions of the historian.
This is 'history's anthropology'. The layers of interpretation and meaning are woven into the fabric of the history itself. And this is the historian entwined in the fragments of the past that are sought, found, reworked and retold.