If you think whaling isn't interesting, think again. Gourley, in association with Mystic Seaport Museum, dredges up enough fascinating information about the once vital American industry to satisfy almost anybody--using the words of the whalers themselves to do it. Excerpts from diaries and books, most written during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, are the heart of her presentation, and her excellent connecting commentary is delivered with flair and enthusiasm. The men and women whose words flow across the pages tell of excitement, hardship, and horror at sea--the drama and viciousness of the kill, the harsh treatment, the poor conditions, the disillusionment. They also speak of adventure and camaraderie. The cover is rather drab, but the format is inviting, with lots of white space and attractive placement of headings and illustrations. Reproductions of lithographs and period photos add interest, and Gourley uses the margin for definitions of odd terms that appear in the first-person accounts. There's not enough frame of reference for the description of the "Cruise of the "Portuguese Princess"," the last part of the book, but apart from that, this is a engaging, exceptionally well-designed look at a vital part of maritime history. A bibliography and sources of further information are appended.