This book is a 2000 reprint of an edited text published in 1965 by Iola Haverstock and Betty Shepard that seems to have been produced to cash in on the interest aroused by the unrelated movie "Perfect Storm". It tells the true story of the Nantucket whaleship "Essex" as it sails from its home port down the coast of S.America and around Cape Horn to the Pacific whaling grounds. After replenishing their supplies on the Galapagos Islands they continue their hunting. A month out from the Galapagos, the ship is sunk by an enraged whale. The 21 crew salvage what supplies they can and set off in 3 open lifeboats hoping to sail themselves to the Marquesas Islands about 2500 miles away. Nature intervenes and the crew faces storms, shark attacks, thirst and hunger. As their numbers dwindle, they resort to cannibalism to survive. The book is an astonshing tale of survival amid false hopes (the vagaries of the weather first allowing fair sailing then foul, landing on an island only to find it has no fresh water) and inconceivable choices. The book has several flaws as pointed out by other reviewers. It is very difficult to determine how much the book has been edited from the original diary and manuscript by Owen Chase. The book also raises interest in environmental concerns - for example, while replenishing at the Galapagos the Essex caught 360 giant turtle for fresh meat. The depredations of an entire whaling fleet over decades surely had a massive impact on the ecosystem. We also learn that 6 of the 21 crew were black at least 4 of whom died (or were killed?) and eaten. The racial differences and attitudes are not discussed (and this was still a time of slavery) so it would be interesting to find out more as to what extent race played a role in deciding who lived and died. Overall, the book blew my mind as to the limits of human endurance. Where there's life there's hope has never been more true.