Just in time for "In the Heart of the Sea" fans, "Wreck of the Whale Ship Essex" is a true account of whaling. "Moby Dick" is an amazing novel, but challenging to read. "Wreck of the Whale Ship Essex" is more accessible, and it's a factual story of the hazards of whaling. This would be a great holiday gift for anyone interested in the fictional stories of the whale hunting industry.-- Tech Girl
From the Back Cover
This book is targeted to people interested in early 19th Century American History and Commercial Whaling during that period. Actually, this is two books written by two different participants in the endeavor. Also, some loosely related excerpts of other similar stories.
What was the Amazon Rank on the date this review was published? 113,907.
Is this a book that I can read without having to read others first? Yes.
Are there other books by this author that might also be helpful? On this topic, no, but the publisher has an extensive library of historical titles that may interest historians, especially regarding the Chesapeake Bay.
Are there a lot of typos/misspellings, grammatical errors or other editing failures? None that are significant.
Is it a quick, easy read? Not really. This is more of a leisure read than a quick read. A book to savor.
What sort of language does this writer use to amplify the points made? English but of a different sort than commonly spoken these days. Bear in mind, it is largely comprised of a book first published in "the 46th year after" American independence from England. The writing style is absent of foul language but is more passively written than present day writing. Beware, though, there are some disturbing scenes, albeit, not graphic in detail, but, in any language, cannibalism is repugnant to most.
My biggest pleasure or disappointment was? The reprint of the original writing by Owen Chase is phenomenal. I only wish he had been more descriptive of the scenes before the whale wrecked the Essex. Especially of the Galapagos.
I also wish there had been more Thomas Nickerson's writing. Not merely because his writing had better flow, but simply because he included sketches in his narrative. Something else that impressed me was the illustrations in the second half of this book. Some are simple line drawings, some are full color and reproduced in color, and a few are B&W photographs. All, though, are appreciated by me, as they depict the various scenes and whale attacks of various vessels.
EXCERPT:The surf flew in all directions about him, and his course towards us was marked by a white foam of a rod in width, which he made with the continual violent thrashing of his tail; his head was about half out of water, and in that way he came upon, and again struck the ship.
I should judge the speed of the ship to have been at this time about three knots, and that of the whale about six. He struck her to windward, directly under the cathead, and completely stove in her bows. He passed under the ship again, went off to leeward, and we saw no more of him. Our situation at this juncture can be more readily imagined than described.
The shock to our feelings was such, as I am sure none can have an adequate conception of, that were not there: the misfortune befell us at a moment when we least dreamt of any accident, and from the pleasing anticipations we had formed, of realizing the certain profits of our labor, we were dejected by a sudden, most mysterious, and overwhelming calamity.
Not a moment, however, was to be lost in endeavoring to provide for the extremity to which it was now certain we were reduced. We were more than a thousand miles from the nearest land, and with nothing but a light open boat, as the resource of safety for myself and companions. I ordered the men to cease pumping, and everyone to provide for himself; seizing a hatchet at the same time, I cut away the lashings of the spare boat, which lay bottom up across two spars directly over the quarter deck, and cried out to those near me to take her as she came down. They did so accordingly and bore her on their shoulders as far as the waist of the ship. The steward had in the meantime gone down into the cabin twice and saved two quadrants, two practical navigators, and the captain's trunk and mine; all who were hastily thrown into the boat, as she lay on the deck, with the two compasses that I snatched from the binnacle. He attempted to descend again, but the water by this time had rushed in, and he returned without being able to effect his purpose.
By the time we had got the boat to the waist, the ship had filled with water, and was going down on her beam-ends: we shoved our boat as quickly as possible from the plank-shear into the water, all hands jumping in her at the same time, and launched off clear of the ship. We were scarcely two boat lengths distant from her, when she fell over to windward, and settled down in the water.
Amazement and despair now wholly took possession of us. We contemplated the frightful situation the ship lay in and thought with horror upon the sudden and dreadful calamity that had overtaken us. We looked upon each other as if to gather some consolatory sensation from an interchange of sentiments, but every countenance was marked with the paleness of despair.
Not a word was spoken for several minutes by any of us; all appeared to be bound in a spell of stupid consternation; and from the time we were first attacked by the whale, to the period of the fall of the ship, and of our leaving her in the boat, more than ten minutes could not certainly have elapsed! God only knows in what way, or by what means, we were enabled to accomplish in that short time what we did; the cutting away and transporting the boat from where she was deposited would of itself, in ordinary circumstances, have consumed as much time as that, if the whole...
Chase, Owen; Nickerson, Thomas (2015-12-01). Wreck of the Whale Ship Essex - Illustrated - NARRATIVE OF THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY AND DISTRESSING SHIPWRECK OF THE WHALE-SHIP ESSEX: Original News Stories of Whale Attacks & Cannibals (Kindle Locations 379-408). Huggins Point Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.