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Starred Review. In this engrossing account, Dolin (Political Waters) chronicles the epic history of the American whaling industry, which peaked in the mid-18th century as "American whale oil lit the world." Temporarily dealt a blow by the Revolutionary War, whaling grew tremendously in the first half of the 19th century, and then diminished after the 1870s, in part because of the rise of petroleum. Many of America's pivotal moments were bound up with whaling: the ships raided during the Boston Tea Party, for example, carried whale oil from Nantucket to London before loading up with tea. Dolin also shows the ways whaling intersected with colonial conquest of Native Americans—had Indians not sold white settlers crucial coastal land, for example, Nantucket's whaling industry wouldn't have gotten off the ground. He sketches the complex relationship between whaling and slavery: service on a whaler served as a means of escape for some slaves, and whalers were occasionally converted into slave ships. This account is at once grand and quirky, entertaining and informative. 32 pages of illus. (July)
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Many people regard the hunting of whales as an archaic and even barbaric practice that threatens a magnificent, highly intelligent animal with extinction. The Japanese have been particularly scorched recently for their refusal to abide by various conventions to limit whaling. So it is useful, as well as very interesting, to be reminded of how integral a role whaling has played in our own national development. Dolin, who has written extensively on the marine world, has crafted a survey of the whaling industry over the past four centuries. It began in North America early in the seventeenth century and reached its peak in the midnineteenth century. Whaling was critical in the economic growth of New England, and whale products flooded international markets. Dolin provides wonderful, exhilarating accounts of whaling expeditions and illustrates just how dangerous the profession could be. He also describes (in sometimes gruesome detail) the industrialized processing of the fruits of the hunts. Even those adamantly opposed to the industry will find this to be a finely written account of a once-burgeoning industry. Freeman, Jay --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
Very good book! A forgotten era in American history is brought back to vivid life. The hardship these men endured would be comical if it weren't true. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Scrommis-r
All the stuff they didn't tell you in school. All the stuff you should have learned now that you can enjoy it. Read morePublished 4 months ago by T. Scott
An impeccably researched narrative history. Rather than engaging in speculation and conjecture, the author supports each major area of study with comprehensive footnotes such that... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Randeroo