Surviving the Essex: The Afterlife of America's Most Storied Shipwreck

Surviving the Essex: The Afterlife of America's Most Storied Shipwreck

by David O. Dowling


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Surviving the Essex: The Afterlife of America's Most Storied Shipwreck by David O. Dowling

Surviving the “Essex” tells the captivating story of a ship’s crew battered by whale attack, broken by four months at sea, and forced—out of necessity—to make meals of their fellow survivors. Exploring the Rashomon-like Essex accounts that complicate and even contradict first mate Owen Chase’s narrative, David O. Dowling examines the vital role of viewpoint in shaping how an event is remembered and delves into the ordeal’s submerged history—the survivors’ lives, ambitions, and motives, their pivotal actions during the desperate moments of the wreck itself, and their will to reconcile those actions in the short- and long-term aftermath of this storied event. Mother of all whale tales, Surviving the “Essex” acts as a sequel to Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea, while probing deeper into the nature of trauma and survival accounts, an extreme form of notoriety, and the impact that the story had on Herman Melville and the writing of Moby-Dick.

Hardcover is un-jacketed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611689075
Publisher: University Press of New England
Publication date: 04/12/2016
Series: Seafaring America Series
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

DAVID O. DOWLING is an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Iowa. He has written numerous books on the intersection of business and literature.

Table of Contents

Who Shot Owen Coffin?
Damage Control
Nickerson and Lewis: Selling the Tale
Lightning Strikes Twice: The Two Brothers
Night Watchman
The Real Ahab
Coda: A Whale’s Motives

What People are Saying About This

George Cotkin

“With glistening prose and a detective’s eye for detail and acts of deception, David Dowling investigates one of the most famous and harrowing events in maritime history. By carefully dissecting contending narratives of the sinking of the Essex, Dowling illuminates issues diverse and fascinating: cannibalism, ghostwriting, the literary marketplace, reputations, and even the culpability of the whale in sinking the ship.”

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