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Leviathan The History of Whaling in America review ã 104

Eric Jay Dolin ´ 4 review

Leviathan The History of Whaling in America review ã 104 â ❴PDF❵ ❤ Leviathan The History of Whaling in America Author Eric Jay Dolin – Leviathan selected as one of the best nonfiction books of 2007 by The Los Angeles Times The Boston Globe and The Providence Journal LeviathaTo its Golden Age in the mid s when than ports The History of Whaling in PDF got into the whaling business and the sails of America's whaleships whitened the seven seas American whale oil lit the world and greased the gears of the industrial revolution Baleen cut from the mouths of whales shaped the course of feminine fashion Spermaceti from sperm whales produced amazingly brilliant and clean burning candles while ambergris gave perfumes great staying power and was worth its weight in gold And the profits from whaling created great fortunes The History of Whaling in PDF and helped fuel the nation's growth Leviathan teems with fascinating vignettes from the Pilgrims' frustrating encounters with whales to the Candle Wars that pitted eighteenth century New England Industrialists against each other to the heroic cruise of Captain David Porter and the USS Essex in which Porter and his men valiantly protected American whaleships during the War of until they themselves were captured by the British Then there is the violent tale of Cyrus Plumer a notorious troublemaker whose mutiny on the whaleship Juni. As the subtitle plainly states Leviathan is about the history of whaling in America As we all learned in middle school whales were hunted for their meat blubber baleen and ambergris a waxy substance used in perfumes But it was the oil which burned cleaner and brighter than other substances at the time that was the real economic driver for the early whaling industryPrior to the 1600’s whaling in the continental US largely consisted butchering whales that had been stranded on shore But by the mid 1600’s New Englanders began open boat whaling The preferred techniue was to sneak up on the whale and throw or thrust a harpoon into its body The harpoon was secured to the boat with a strong rope The purpose of the harpoon was not to kill the whale but to affix the whale to the boat to prevent it from diving deeply In an attempt to escape the whale would take the boat and its passengers on a famed ‘Nantucket Sleigh Ride’ exhausting itself in the process at which point the whalers would close and thrust a lance into the whale in an attempt to pierce the lungs The measure of success was a bloody spray from the blow hole With the whale dispatched it could be towed back to shore for butchering In the 1700’s the US became a leading exporter as Britain’s demand for whale oil increased and deep sea whaling techniues matured Trade was interrupted by the Revolutionary War and high tariffs placed on oil by the Brits afterwards caused whaling to founder The situation improved after the war of 1812 and Nantucket soon became the world’s preeminent whaling port However their good fortune was not to last By 1850 whaling was in decline and Nantucket's whaling industry was surpassed by that of New Bedford Though the island suffered great economic hardship it must have come as no small consolation that the decline in whaling was accompanied by a corresponding rise to prominence as Nantucket became the distinguished subject of filthy limericks around the globe US whaling peaked in the mid 1800s but the introduction of kerosene lamps in 1846 began to take its toll on the demand for whale oil The Civil War further decimated the industry and by 1895 the New England whaling fleet was down to just 51 ships The last whaler departed from New Bedford in 1927 and there was much rejoicing from the cetacean community Dolin goes into great detail of many aspects of whaling from the long voyages averaging 4 years the butchering of whales shipboard life including the maggot ridden food hardships deprivations living conditions finances and injuries suffered scrimshaw and scrimshaw porn hostile natives mutinous crewmen and rogue whales He also includes numerous anecdotes such as that of a woman who passed as a seaman for 7 months before discovery and the techniues used by scalawags to conscript young naifs into whaling service What is clear is that life for the average whale man was far from romantic and not particularly lucrative which is why it wasn’t unusual for half of a ship’s crew on each voyage to desert at the first opportunity Of course no whaling book would be complete without a discussion of Moby Dick the literary masterpiece as opposed to something relating to scrimshaw porn and Dolin goes into some detail about the sources of Melville’s ideas for the tale many of which were based on actual events As to the book it was pretty good Dolin clearly did uite a bit of research in putting it together and the material though somewhat voluminous is presented in a fairly interesting manner By way of criticismDolin ignores indigenous whalers entirely This is particularly egregious given that native Alaskans began hunting whales long before New Englanders did and are currently the only Americans still engaged in the practice though this is not without controversy To call the omission of these individuals from a history of American whaling an ‘oversight’ strikes me as rather an understatement In his section discussing the Civil War Dolin speaks in derogatory terms of union soldiers who attempted to disrupt confederate commerce by blockading ports yet his coverage of rebel warships who plundered and burned unarmed civilian whaling vessels in order to disrupt commerce is positively heroic It’s weird The only explanation that occurs to me is that Dolin who according to Wiki grew up in the northeast is a closeted confederate sympathizerFinally early in the book Dolin states that he intends in no way shape or form to discuss the issue of whale conservation or the disastrous effect that whaling had on the species I view this as an unfortunate decision It’s certainly the author’s prerogative to decide what topics to tackle in their work and Dolin has chosen to limit his discussion only to that of whaling history in the continental US But this is an odd choice given the fact that many species of whale were nearly exterminated that they only exist today due to whaling moratoriums agreed upon by many of the world’s countries and the fact that several species remain critically endangered as a result of whaling to this day Frankly I can only view Dolin’s choice as an abrogation of responsibility There was no reason he could not have dedicated a short chapter to a subject that I view to be of much greater importance and relevance today than the one he chose to write about

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Or is thrillingly retold Among the most amazing accounts is that of the Shenandoah a Confederate raider which burned of the Union whaleships it captured most after the Civil War had already ended In the waning years of the nineteenth century we witness the agonizingly slow death of an American industry as the discovery of oil tragic disasters in the Arctic and changes in female fashion combine to transform the American whalemen into an historical relic The final scene comes in as the whaleship Wanderer wrecked on the shore of Cuttyhunk Island provides the last glimpse of a bygone era Through it all those iron men in wooden boats created a legacy of dramatic poignant and at times horrific stories This sprawling maritime saga is filled with these tales as well as rich lyrical descriptions of whales and the sea Original stirring and authoritative Leviathan delivers the year history of American whaling in vibrant detail integrating literary social and economic history into an epic account of this once vital industryW W Norton pp illustrations Also available in Audiobook format from Tantor Audiobooks. Panoramic account of whaling in America from colonial times to the beginning of the 20th century Like all great historical non fiction it leaves you feeling nostalgic for a lost era Of course for the whales and the whale men who suffered in their pursuit the end could not have come sooner

Summary Leviathan The History of Whaling in America

Leviathan The History of Whaling in AmericaLeviathan selected as one of History of Epub #219 the best nonfiction books of by The Los Angeles Times The Boston Globe and The Providence Journal Leviathan was also chosen by com's editors as one of the best history books of To produce a mighty book you must choose a mighty theme proclaimed Herman Melville and the vivid story of whaling is one of the mightiest themes in American history Indeed much of America's culture economy and even its spirit were literally and figuratively rendered from the bodies of whales Leviathan The PDF or In Leviathan the first one volume history of American whaling in many decades historian Eric Jay Dolin chronicles the epic battle between man and the sea and in this case between man and beast an often violent struggle that animates the imagination and stirs our emotions Beginning his engrossing narrative with Captain John Smith's botched whaling expedition to the New World in Dolin traces the rise of this burgeoning industry from its rapid expansion in the colonial era and its brutal struggles during and after the The History of PDFEPUB #187 Revolutionary War. The risk in giving your opinion about a book is that people may think you're an idiot Worse than that people may find out that indeed you actually are an idiot This risk usually only runs with books that are acknowledged classics or books that are trashy For instance you will definitely get concerned looks when you say you really hate The Great Gatsby or really love The DaVinci Code No offense to Dan Brown o philes This was my plight when I said I really disliked Moby Dick Since these reviews are voluntary on my part and since I'm no longer an indifferent high school student writing a five paragraph theme based on borrowed Cliffs Notes since it's 1998 and my parents only have a dial up AOL connection I try very hard to avoid using the descriptor boring The word doesn't mean much; if it means anything it's usually that the person speaking it doesn't have much imagination But with Moby Dick despite much hemming and hawing I eventually was left with that conclusion I was bored The book bored me There I said it Whenever I give this opinion people invariably respond You just don't get it First thanks for the vote of confidence you condescending jerk And secondWell you're probably right I don't get it And I'm not going to waste my time trying again To uench my lingering thirst for whale blood I picked up Eric Jay Dolin's Leviathan The History of Whaling in America I have two main things to say about this book 1 This is a very good book about whaling 2 This is a very good book about whaling Leviathan takes a chronological approach to its sweeping subject It starts in the 1600s with a rather pointless discussion about John Smith yeah that one and the whales and ends in the 1920s when most of the whales have been slaughtered and the human race had turned to raping Mother Earth for its oil Sorry I'm just bitter that I have to work on Thanksgiving Dolin is an engaging writer and he is an explainer so that there are tons of interesting factoids and stories with which to wow your wifelife partnerdinner gueststhe guy standing next to you at the bar Just make sure to space these things out because no one wants a bunch of whale facts all at once Dolin is at ease tackling subjects as varied as whale biology with a side focus on whale penises types of harpoons industry economics and the gory step by step processing of captured whalesThe book's scope encompasses many decades However because whaling is an industry rather than a single historical event or even an series of historical events the nature of Leviathan is rather anecdotal Though each time period is discrete and uniue in terms of economic climate whalers did well in peace and poor in war and utilized technologies the template is always the same dozens of stories stitched together with background information There are stories about successful hunts and unsuccessful hunts; there are stories about rampaging whales and shipwrecks; there are ships stuck in the ice and mutinies at sea and attacks by angry natives that seem to leap straight out of a semi racist Technicolor film from the 40s or 50s I've always kind of liked anecdotal books There's nothing better than a good story and if you're drunk while telling that story or listening to it then all the better Of course one man's anecdote is another man's aimless digression and this makes for a read that is hit and miss When the stories are lame or seem off topic the book is a drag But when the stories are crisp and exciting and involve mutineers taking their whaleboats and attempting to escape into the Australian Outback the pages just fly For instance there is a section on whaling during the Civil War The entire chapter is devoted to two Confederate Raiders wreaking havoc on the American whaling fleet Now I know because I checked that a lot of folks who read this book loved this section I thought it was pointless It has absolutely nothing to do with whaling other than the victims were whalers Obviously the whaling industry was effected by these events but Dolin tells the story from the point of view of the predators the Confederates not the victims the whalers Really what Dolin is doing is filling pages with something he hopes will hold the reader's attention It's the literary euivalent of Roland Joffre adding an Indian attack to the end of his film version of The Scarlet Letter In this case the story didn't work for me But it could work for you One major problem I often have with books like this that is micro histories is that they try to prove too much or overstate the importance of its subject Fortunately Dolin mostly avoids this pitfall He sticks to the vicarious exciting man against nature aspects rather than trying to prove to us that stabbing whales to drain their precious oils to make brighter burning candles for rich people actually changed the course of human events The big surprise is that there is very little critical analysis of yesterday's whaling industry or today's Reading Dolin's bio with all his fancy Ivy League degrees I figured he'd at least touch on the fact that poorly paid whalemen at the behest of giant corporate trusts practically denuded the seas of an entire species in order to reap a fantastic profit Alas there is no such preaching in Leviathan So I added that little sermon for your edification One of the best things about Leviathan is that it isn't Moby Dick If you want a good whale yarn here it is And in modern English Then again if you want to push forward with your plans to read Moby Dick over the holidays this makes a good companion Finally if you read Moby Dick and loved it you coud read this book and scoff at its simplistic syntax and its lack of Biblical allusions Then you can leave a comment on my Moby Dick review telling me what a simple soul I am