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Moby Dick – the Prequel?
on 6 October 2015
Americans' fascination with “Moby Dick”* may explain a book like this which is about a whaling ship from Nantucket that was attacked and sunk by a giant sperm whale in 1819 in the Pacific.
Eight survivors underwent an amazing 3,000 mile trip on small boats, during which they ate 12 fellow crew members, before being rescued.
The story of the “Essex” became well known and Herman Melville probably based parts of “Moby Dick” on it.
It is a fascinating story but the author seems to have done little original research and has more or less summarized previous accounts.
It seems strange that the crew who were mainly Quakers and their society accepted such behavior but the author makes little of this.
He gives a potted history of what happened to each of them afterwards, talks about Melville and then ends with a description of an incident in 1997 when a sperm whale was beached off Nantucket.
I was slightly disappointed as I had enjoyed Philbrick's book “Mayflower” about the founding of the early English settlement of what was to become the United States.
*Although I wonder how many have actually read it to the bitter end.