Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America

Paperback (Print)
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
$9.38
(Save 41%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $2.98
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 81%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (31) from $2.98   
  • New (10) from $9.27   
  • Used (21) from $2.98   

Overview

A Los Angeles Times Best Non-Fiction Book of 2007
A Boston Globe Best Non-Fiction Book of 2007
Amazon.com Editors pick as one of the 10 best history books of 2007
Winner of the 2007 John Lyman Award for U. S. Maritime History, given by the North American Society for Oceanic History
"The best history of American whaling to come along in a generation." —Nathaniel Philbrick
The epic history of the "iron men in wooden boats" who built an industrial empire through the pursuit of whales. "To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme," Herman Melville proclaimed, and this absorbing history demonstrates that few things can capture the sheer danger and desperation of men on the deep sea as dramatically as whaling. Eric Jay Dolin begins his vivid narrative with Captain John Smith's botched whaling expedition to the New World in 1614. He then chronicles the rise of a burgeoning industry—from its brutal struggles during the Revolutionary period to its golden age in the mid-1800s when a fleet of more than 700 ships hunted the seas and American whale oil lit the world, to its decline as the twentieth century dawned. This sweeping social and economic history provides rich and often fantastic accounts of the men themselves, who mutinied, murdered, rioted, deserted, drank, scrimshawed, and recorded their experiences in journals and memoirs. Containing a wealth of naturalistic detail on whales, Leviathan is the most original and stirring history of American whaling in many decades.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Adam Kirsch - New York Sun
“...perfect summer reading, especially if you happen to be spending the summer by the sea, or on it.”
Bruce Barcott - New York Times
“Leviathan is an exhaustive, richly detailed history of industrial American whaling...Dolin succeeds admirably at what he sets out to do: tell the story of one of the strangest industries in American history.”
David Waldstreicher - The Boston Globe
“Eric Jay Dolin's lively and thorough history spans the rise, golden age, and decline of what was once one of New England's distinctive industries...Dolin chose to take on the subject in its broadest form, and if he leaves us wanting more, that is what good history does.”
John Steele Gordon - The Wall Street Journal
“Mr. Dolin handles this long, complex tale with great skill, both as a historian and as a writer (the bibliography and illustrations are splended too)...Leviathan is thoroughly engaging.”
Bruce Barcott
It would take courage to approach whaling as a literary subject—everything ever written about it lives in the shadow of Moby-Dick—and Leviathan doesn't really aspire to those heights. Accurate details and a full historical scope, not drama, are the book's driving virtues. At times that approach results in wonderful insights into whaling: a real taste of the vile life aboard a whaleship and a cleareyed analysis of the cutthroat tactics of the whale-oil trade. At other times, the details become overwhelming. In the end, though, Dolin succeeds admirably at what he sets out to do: tell the story of one of the strangest industries in American history.
—The New York Times Book Review
William Grimes
…anyone whose knowledge of whaling begins and ends with Moby-Dick will get a solid education from Mr. Dolin, who fills in the historical record and sets the stage for the glory years when men like Melville set out from Nantucket, New Bedford, Sag Harbor and dozens of other ports on voyages lasting as long as four years.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

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)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

In the introduction to his sprawling account of America's whaling legacy, Dolin explicitly warns that his text is not concerned with the modern ethical implications of the whaling industry. Nor is it a revisionist exploration of the industry's heyday in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, with contemporary debate about the fate of whaling increasingly at the forefront, the historical events related here are all the more poignant. The Basques were most likely the first Europeans to centralize their economy around whaling; later, the industry helped enable the Dutch, Germans, and English to establish sea supremacy. Dolin devotes significant space to the importance of whaling in the relationship-and the dissolution thereof-between England and its American Colonies. He thoroughly discusses the pervasive influence of the whaling industry on American society, from the everyday drama of the seamen in search of commodity to the myriad items made of whale by-products available in the marketplace, including Spermaceti candles and ambergris. As its name suggests, Leviathan is a monumental treatise on a formative American institution, and Dolin admirably creates a cohesive story. Narrator James Boles is engaging, though at times his vocal inflections overdramatize what is historical nonfiction. Recommended for most libraries, especially those with strong historical or natural science collections.-Christopher Rager, Pasadena, CA

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

Ask the average reader about whaling, and all you'll get back (except possibly in New England) is Moby Dick and Free Willy. Most people are unaware of the major role played by the whaling industry in the history and economy of America in the 18th and 19th centuries. This book will definitely help correct that lack of knowledge. Dolin, a fisheries policy analyst with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Gloucester, MA, has used the extensive local museum and library resources available to him to provide a comprehensive and well-written account of North American whaling from the earliest Indians to the last wooden whaling ship to leave New Bedford, MA, in 1924. The author clearly states that this is not a book about the ethics of commercial whaling or the conservation of whales. It is meant to show the numerous ways in which whaling influenced U.S. culture, and this it does extremely well. The extensive notes and bibliography will provide a launch pad for the reader who wants more. Highly recommended for all high school, academic, and public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ4/1/07.]
—Margaret Rioux

Kirkus Reviews
National Marine Fisheries Service analyst Dolin compellingly examines whaling's importance to America's early growth and wealth. The author traces the industry's development, from enthusiastic whale hunting by eighth-century Basques to the introduction of an array of whale products throughout Europe by the 17th century. The first American settlers saw Indians cutting up dead pilot whales stranded on the beach and soon tried "drift" whaling themselves. Favorably located near migratory routes, Nantucket took the lead first in drift whaling and then in shore whaling, rowing out to harpoon leviathans swimming near the coast. The island's hardworking, business-minded Quaker settlers, relying on the local Indians as an abundant source of skilled labor, launched deep-sea hunting for the sperm whale and its three lucrative components: oil for clean lighting, spermaceti for medicinal elixirs and candles, ambergris as a fixative for perfumes. (Right whales provided another commercially successful product: baleen for corset stays.) Dolin takes the reader through the facets of sperm-whale hunting, detailing the creature's actual physical makeup and the nasty life aboard whaling vessels, then moving on to describe the dangerous chase for an elusive, troublesome prey, followed by the dismemberment and processing of its carcass. Various American wars dealt disastrously with the whaling industry, though it recovered after 1812 and, by the early 1850s, had entered the golden age Herman Melville depicted in Moby-Dick. In 1853, the top year of production, ships from New Bedford, New London and Sag Harbor killed an astounding 8,000 whales to produce 103,000 barrels of sperm oil and 5.7 million pounds ofbaleen. But the discovery of crude oil in Pennsylvania during the late 1850s produced a flood of cheap kerosene that soon supplanted whale oil as the principle source of lamp fuel. Dolin closes with the final voyage of New Bedford's last whaling ship in 1924. A densely researched and comprehensive portrait, enhanced by fascinating archival paintings and photos. Agent: Russell Galen/Scovil Chichak Galen Literary Agency
From the Publisher
"An exhaustive, richly detailed history of industrial American whaling.... A real taste of the vile life aboard a whaleship and a cleareyed analysis of the cutthroat tactics of the whale-oil trade." —-The New York Times
New York Times
Leviathan is an exhaustive, richly detailed history of industrial American whaling...Dolin succeeds admirably at what he sets out to do: tell the story of one of the strangest industries in American history.— Bruce Barcott
The Wall Street Journal
Mr. Dolin handles this long, complex tale with great skill, both as a historian and as a writer (the bibliography and illustrations are splended too)...Leviathan is thoroughly engaging.— John Steele Gordon
New York Sun
...perfect summer reading, especially if you happen to be spending the summer by the sea, or on it.— Adam Kirsch
The Boston Globe
Eric Jay Dolin's lively and thorough history spans the rise, golden age, and decline of what was once one of New England's distinctive industries...Dolin chose to take on the subject in its broadest form, and if he leaves us wanting more, that is what good history does.— David Waldstreicher
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393331578
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 422,516
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Jay Dolin is the author of Leviathan: The History of Whaling In America, which was chosen as one of the best nonfiction books of 2007 by The Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe, and also won the 2007 John Lyman Award for U. S. Maritime History; andFur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America. He is also the author of When America First Met China: An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money in the Age of Sail. A graduate of Brown, Yale, and MIT, where he received his Ph.D. in environmental policy, he lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents


Introduction     11
Arrival and Ascent, 1614-1774
John Smith Goes Whaling     17
"The King of Waters, The Sea-Shouldering Whale"     30
All Along the Coast     41
Nantucket, the "Faraway Land"     63
The Whale's Whale     75
Into "Ye Deep"     90
Candle Wars     109
Glory Days     119
Tragedy and Triumph, 1775-1860
On the Eve of Revolution     139
Ruin     149
Up from the Ashes     165
Knockdown     188
The Golden Age     205
"An Enormous, Filthy Humbug"     253
Stories, Songs, Sex, and Scrimshaw     275
Mutinies, Murders, Mayhem, and Malevolent Whales     282
Disaster and Decay, 1861-1924
Stones in the Harbor and Fire on the Water     309
From the Earth     335
Ice Crush     342
Fading Away     353
Epilogue: Fin Out     370
Notes     375
Select Bibliography     453
Illustration Credits     461
Acknowledgments     463
Index     467
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)