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Suggestions for Further Reading
THE ESSEX NARRATIVES First Reports
1. The Paddack Letter
2. The Macy Letter The Mate's Story
1. Chase's Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex
2. Herman Melville's Annotation of Chase's Narrative The Boy's Story
1. Nickerson's "Desultory Sketches"
2. Nickerson's Letter to Lewis The Captain's Story
1. Excerpt from Ridgely's Letterbook
2. Excerpt from Wilke's Autobiography
3. Excerpt from Tyreman and Bennet's Journal The Boatsteerer's Story
1. An Account of the Loss of the Essex
2. Excerpt from the Journal of the Surry
Extracts: Memories and Apocrypha Notes
Posted March 8, 2013
The collection of first-hand reports of the horrendous fate of the whaling ship Essex and its crew is startling and terrible. The documents are well edited with introductions for each. It is a valuable book for those interesting in the whaling industry and the dangers of that profession.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 25, 2000
Thomas and Nathaniel Philbrick have done a remarkable and admirable job of collecting the known accounts of the wreck of the Essex, the shipwreck upon which Herman Melville based 'Moby Dick'. The complete text of the account of mate Owen Chase is presented here, along with a long sea-tale written by cabin boy Thomas Nickerson and a host of letters and pamphlets. <P> Chase's account, long held to be the only full-length account, is engaging and fairly well written. Dubiously, it makes Chase out to be an all-round good guy that just happened to chow down on the dead bodies of his shipmates, but that's to be expected in a first-person account. <P> Nickerson's account, discovered in 1980, is a fascinating tale that only peripherally deals with the wreck. For the most part, it is an even-handed account of the voyage up to the attack by the enraged whale and includes many digressions and asides, which are entertaining, but not necessarily why we are reading this book. <P> Letters mentioning the wreck are included, as are marginal notes written by Melville himself. All of this is interesting enough the first or second time, but by the time you've finished this book, you've read about the horrific fate of these seaman nine times. Sometimes it's short & sweet, sometimes it's drawn out, but by and large it's the same story and the additional accounts don't really add much to anyone but an historian. <P> One thing about the account that caused me to think was the fact that most of the sailors to die first were the black ones. In the end, no black sailors survived. It seems odd to me that, when people started dying of starvation and being eaten by their fellows, it was the black ones who happened to die first. I don't know if this means anything, and I'm not making accusations. It's just something I noticed.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.