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Shipwreck Of The Whaleship Essex [Paperback]

Tim Cahill , Owen Chase , Paul Lyons
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

6 April 2000

On 20 November 1820, just south of the equator, the whaling ship Essex, out of Nantucket, spotted a 'shoal' of sperm whales. It was a fine clear day, about eight in the morning. Two whaling boats, lightly built for rowing speed, were lowered from the Essex. The crew pursued and harpooned tree of the whales, whereupon the largest of them - some 85 feet long - rammed the Essex twice in ten minutes and 'stove in her bows'.

This remarkable incident was followed by an epic three-month journey in open boats across storm-tossed seas - a feat of navigation and survival that rivals those of Shackleton and Bligh. Only eight men survived, sustained by eating six of those who died.

Twenty-three-year-old Owen Chase was first mate of the Essex. His narrative of these events makes compulsive reading. This edition also includes memoirs by another crew member and by ship's captain, as well as a facsimile of Herman Melville's notes on Chase's account.

Capturing all the elements of an ancient and powerful tragedy, this book is a thrilling tale of survival - as well as a frightful illustration of man's darkest impulses.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico; First Paperback Edition edition (6 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712667415
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712667418
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 706,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Moby Dick was written after Herman Melville had read a survivor's account of the wreck of a Nantucket whaling ship in 1820 and the three subsequent months of gruelling sailing in open boats endured by the whalers. As a source of Melville's inspiration, Shipwreck of the Whaleship Essex is part of literary history. Melville believed that Owen Chase's narrative was written from first-hand "dictation of the facts". This edition incorporates an interesting introduction detailing the American whaling industry and footnotes clarify the few problem items of vocabulary. Two short "missionary tracts" are included, providing other versions of the story, and facsimiles of Melville's notes on Chase (with transcriptions), complete the volume. Together, these texts provide a fascinating picture of the character, attitudes and beliefs of the whalers and their world. As a convincing account of the limits of human endurance, Chase's tale is also of timeless interest. Initially determined and logical, the men are reduced to "being hardly able to crawl around the boat", so close to starvation that they eventually resort to the "revolting ideas" of cannibalism. Only eight out of 20 men make it to the point of rescue.

Shipwreck of the Whaleship Essex is a gripping story never over-sensationalised. The whaler "knows that his laurels are plucked from the brink of danger" and this tale amply communicates the comradeship and the bravery of these men from the past. --Karen Tiley

Review

"The effect is kaleidoscopic. A vivid portrait emerges of the shipwrecked men's privatations and fundamental moral dilemma: literally to eat or be eaten." (Lawrence Norfolk)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an incredible, real story of survival. Who can ever would have thought that a huge whale will struck the wooden ship with such ferocity, twice. Here you will learn what really thirst and hunger is, and what are the effects of that in the body in a prolonged situation. Three months they were in the sea, because of a bad decision of heading south to the coast of Chile instead of moving with the currents to the nearby Tahiti or other islands of the mid pacific. This book has the account of Chase, the captain and one of the shipmates that were left in Henderson Island (Google Earth: 2420'43S & 12818'01W). The few boat survivors were taken to Valparaiso (Chile) for recuperation before going back home. This is a great book and a story that you can also read in Nathaniel Philbrick's, In the Heart of the Sea, a book I also read a few years ago. Enjoy!
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible .. all because of the real Moby Dick! 30 May 2008
By Luis Mansilla Miranda - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is an incredible real story of survival. Who can ever would have thought that a huge whale will struck the wooden ship with such ferocity, twice. Here you will learn what really thirst and hunger is, and what are the effects of that in the body in a prolonged situation. Three months they were in the sea, because of a bad decision of heading south to the coast of Chile instead of moving with the currents to the nearby Tahiti or other islands of the mid pacific. This book has the account of Chase, the captain and one of the shipmates that were left in Henderson Island (Google Earth: 2420'43S & 12818'01W). The few boat survivors were taken to Valparaiso (Chile) for recuperation before going back home. This is a great book and a story that you can also read in Nathaniel Philbrick's, In the Heart of the Sea, a book I read a few years ago. Enjoy!
5.0 out of 5 stars Great adventure book 5 Feb 2014
By Carolyn Charnock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I truly enjoy a book that captivates my attention and makes me able to vision being there and with the events that took place.
Picked this book up and did not stop until I finished. I am an avid book reader and would very much suggest your reading
this one.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book. 2 Feb 2013
By Kindle Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Haven't read the book bu scanned through it and it covers some of my family history. The
coffins started out in Nantucket, coming from England and they were whalers.
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