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Publisher's Summary

This is the epic history of the "iron men in wooden boats" who built an industrial empire through the pursuit of whales.

"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme," Herman Melville proclaimed, and this absorbing history demonstrates that few things can capture the sheer danger and desperation of men on the deep sea as dramatically as whaling.

Eric Jay Dolin begins his vivid narrative with Captain John Smith's botched whaling expedition to the New World in 1614. He then chronicles the rise of a burgeoning industry, from its brutal struggles during the Revolutionary period to its golden age in the mid-1800s, when a fleet of more than 700 ships hunted the seas and American whale oil lit the world, to its decline as the 20th century dawned. This sweeping social and economic history provides rich and often fantastic accounts of the men themselves, who mutinied, murdered, rioted, deserted, drank, scrimshawed, and recorded their experiences in journals and memoirs. Containing a wealth of naturalistic detail on whales, Leviathan is the most original and stirring history of American whaling in many decades.

©2007 Eric Jay Dolin (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Engrossing....This account is at once grand and quirky, entertaining and informative." ( Publishers Weekly) "Eric Jay Dolin's Leviathan is the best history of American whaling to come along in a generation." (Nathaniel Philbrick, author of In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex)

What members say

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  • Overall


In the beginning I thought it would be long and boring.Was I wrong. Suddenly there was a lively story. It is a history beautifully narrated in the language of the times. First it was interesting, then a fasinating chronology full of descriptive adventure. Whaling was such an important part of our heritage.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • john
  • Glenrothes, NY, United States
  • 02-15-09

Excellent Text, Horrendous Narration

This book is an amazing piece of work, Well researched, detailed and still incredibly entertaining even when detailing mundane actions and events. I can't think of any other book with so much information all brought together so well. I picked up the printed book so as to have a reference handy.

The naration was awful, If the text had not been so incredible I would have given up within 20 mins, "William Shakespeare's Henry IV" was being quoted and was read by the narator as "William Shakespeare's Henry Four"...I mean any 3rd Grader knows to add the "th" to a title...This and many other weird actions throughout the reading made me want to fling my MP3 player aganst a wall, He repeatedly dragged me out of the story.

This is the kind of audiobook that would win awards if given a competent Narator.

I would gladly give the book 100% but this is an audiobook website and the narration drags it down hard...

Please let a decent narrator try again, Ill buy it again with a good narrator

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Rob
  • FPO, AP, USA
  • 04-21-09

nothing fishy

Great book, easy listen. If you like history, New England, whales, or anyone from Nantucket; this is for you.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Informative history of worldwide whaling industry

well written and read, covers the history of whaling from the earliest Basque onshore whalers to the ultimate decline. Some distracting editing if you are listening closely

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • bryan
  • Indianapolis, INDIANA, United States
  • 05-21-13

Thare she blows...!!

I listened to this after Heart of the Sea, which I think is a prerequisite to this story. There is also a decent PBS documentary on the history of American whaling which seems to draw a lot from this book and interviews not only the author of this book, Eric Dolin, but also Nathaniel Philbrick and a few historians.
This book does have some flaws but they do not detract from this history. This is a broad view and a great starting point for non scholars to get an idea of American whaling. he gets some minute sailing facts incorrect and refers to Philbrick as a 'historian', he is not. He is a writer. However, I think that's being a little pedantic. I enjoyed this book and along with some other supplements, I learned a tremendous amount about American whaling and the history of the United States.

  • Overall
  • Margaret
  • Roberta, GA, United States
  • 05-07-11

Imapct of American Whaling on the Global Economy

This is an concise history of one of the most important industries in our brief history as a nation. The author does a great job of staying on track. He does NOT chase rabbits during the telling which makes it easier to keep in mind the theme of the book. The telling of it also illustrates the transcient nature of things we consider essential to our lives. A story repeated over and over in the advancement of our scientific and technological times. The story successfully weaves history, invention and human desires into a story easy to follow and enjoy. A once important part of our nations' backbone has become irrelevant and its era has gradually dropped out of our history books. It is a good length and leaves the listener wanting more...but then again, the whaling industry is gone forever so there is not more to tell.

  • Overall

Bad Narrator

The text is quite interesting. However the narrator is terrible.

3 of 10 people found this review helpful