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4.0 out of 5 starsFacinating history
Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2015
The first part of the book, written by a survivor of the Whale Ship Essex, was both facinating and inspiring. It is remarkable that anyone could survive the ordeal of being in an open boat at sea thousands of miles from land for such an extended period of time. The second part of the book, composed mostly of newspaper articles written when whaling was a prosperous business and before whales were scarce due to overfishing, gives added information about the dangers of whaling. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it especially to those who appreciate first hand sources and accounts written in the time period events occurred.
5.0 out of 5 starsOur forbears put us to shame on SO many levels!
Reviewed in the United States on April 25, 2019
The accounts preserved for posterity of the days of early American whalers teach us golden lessons, if we will attend to them. First, we cannot and must not judge what they did by 21st-century perspectives. We live in an era when some politicians in the U.S.A. are calling for a government-sponsored wage for everyone. In 1819, if you wanted to eat, you found work. Any work.
The most controversial aspect of this two-century old story is the cannibalism. Life's realities have an annoying knack of testing our morals at the most inopportune times! Our forbears handled life head-on. We, on the other hand, find someone to sue!
Many readers never finish the book because of the use of the English language employed in the early 19th century. It was a time of education, erudition, and knowing the best word to use and when. 21st century denizens are not properly equipped to listen to the speaker (or writer), thus are deprived the experience being relayed. Owen Chase, being an officer aboard the Essex, was well-equipped to communicate the feel, flavor, and nuance of a given situation. Nickerson, even though he was not an officer, and his use of language is more easily understood in the 21st century, still strove to use the best word or phrase at his command.
Even if your interest is far from the sea, you would benefit socially and culturally by reading this account of what men will do to feed their families.
5.0 out of 5 starsThe included addenda made this a very worthwhile read
Reviewed in the United States on January 11, 2021
Having read Chase's account in other publications, I did not find anything new in that portion of the book. That portion alone makes this book worth reading. Although dryly written, and just a brief recitation of facts, it is very good to be familiar with it. Nickerson's account which followed was interesting, but far too brief. In this Kindle version at least, it may have had a portion omitted. However the various newspaper articles, brief writings, etc. which were included pretty much as filler were for me the real value of this book. They were all interesting and supplied a lot of background information about the industry, times, and perspectives. That is what makes this a great work to read.
4.0 out of 5 starsA Well Written Report In A Dated Style Of Language
Reviewed in the United States on January 16, 2017
This fine work begins with a well written report on the Whale Ship Essex and its sinking by a whale attack. Owen Chase was a crew member and survivor who authored this work. This incident is source material for Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" and is referred to in that novel. Owen Chase also gives an account of what it is like to be on a whaling voyage. I enjoyed all aspects of this work very much.
The work being reviewed does not end with Owen Chase's account. There is an account by another survivor. Then there is various narratives about cannabilism both in the Pacific Islands and other places. Some of the reports are about starving people and have little or nothing to do with either the Pacific or whaling. I suppose the authors are comparing what various peoples resort to when starving, as the survivors of the Essex faced the same dilemma.
This second part of the book is followed by other whaling stories. I found those stories mildly interesting. Some of them occur after the novel "Moby Dick" was written and therefore are not source material for that work. They are interesting tales of the sea. "My Cousin Dolphin" is my personal favorite account. I believe another reviewer referred to this part as "filler". I respect and understand that opinion. I was also left with the feeling that the whaling industry was unbelievably cruel. Perhaps that is just a difference in the age I live in. Thank You...
5.0 out of 5 starswreck of the whaleship essex by Owen Chase
Reviewed in the United States on July 28, 2019
I just saw a Shark Attack show on TV in which the whale protected the scientist from a shark. It was NOT this whale! The stories are interesting. I now know what to do with hard bread among other things. Although this book does start with the wreck of the whale ship Essex, there are many more stories of whales vs ships and the results. I was going to put in the example of the son of one of the captains, but… I did enjoy the stories and highly recommend the book.
4.0 out of 5 starsBest sea story I’ve ever read…and it actually happened
Reviewed in the United States on June 11, 2017
You’ve got to read this. I read most of it in one sitting. It’s heartbreaking and horrible, but I couldn’t stop reading.
There were also surprises about what they did after the whale attack when they had little chance of survival. I won’t be too specific about it because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but the author states that companionship meant so much to them that they sometimes stayed together even when it lessened the chance of survival. The author isn’t trying to make a point about the nobility of the human spirit. He states it as a mere fact.
My review is of the 87 page Owen Chase account of the Essex. The book also contains several other stories and newspaper articles of varying quality about this period of whaling. Apparently, these kinds of whale attacks weren't common, but were frequent enough to be well known.
The illustrations are lackluster, but, come on, it’s an e-book. If you can find a cheaper version of the Owen Chase account without illustrations, go for it.
This is the original true story, the basis for Melville's classic, "Moby Dick". I was shocked to learn how fast the ship sank. If Moby Dick was a U-boat Captain, he would have been justifiably proud. The rest of the story was the hardships faced by the crew as they floated across the Pacific Ocean to South America. There were some other accounts of whaling and sketches, but I could not take advantage of the sketches with my little Kindle reader.
I was attracted to this book as i was aware of the story of the Essex but I had also read extensively about the Whaling Industry of the port Of Hull (Yorkshire). which accounted for 40% of the British Whaling Industry. The book is an interesting collection of first hand account accounts and newspaper reports regarding whaling and the dangers men encountered. How accurate they are or how far embellished we cannot judge. With any historical documents one has to be aware of bias and personal interest. It also presents a different mindset regarding the whales themselves. The reader should remember the climate of the time, when people were not so caring or aware in respect of conservation or the morality of inflicting great cruelty in pursuit of commodities and wealth. It is of its time and this compilation merely records without comment. Well worth a read by the general reader of one interested in this industry.