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Bruce BarcottIt 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