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Men And Whales by Richard Ellis

Men And Whales

by Richard Ellis

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Men and Whales is a history of world-wide whaling beginning with the Basque peoples of France and Spain, about 900 C.E. and continuing through most of the twentieth century and the end of whaling enforced by governmental controls and environmental groups against the killing of the large mammals. In between is the story of how whaling supplied countries with oil, bone, and by-products of oil and blubber, a kind of whale fat sometimes used in cooking, but more often representing the bulk of fat harvested from a dead whale to supplement the amber-colored whale oil that was most prized for its purity. The connection for almost 1000 years of the great mammals of the sea with those on land quickly became a tale of human bravery against the size and might of the whale, animals which are now close to extinction due to human exploitation and greed. The author examines every aspect of whaling, from the methods of catching and beaching whales to the utilization of the animal’s carcass for items made of oil and wax such as candles and soaps, medicines, food delicacies, and bone fittings for undergarments and scrimshaw as souvenirs. A marine artist, the author has included some of his paintings of whales alongside photographs or posters from the history of whaling in recent times.
  LAMMLibrary | Apr 9, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0394558391, Hardcover)

The shadowy figure of Leviathan has haunted the dreams of humans for millennia, figuring in the folklore, literature, and religion of many cultures. Richard Ellis, a noted marine artist and the author of many popular books on oceanographic topics, here offers an in-depth but readily accessible study of the human quest to understand whales--a quest that often found expression in hunting them. The whale road led the ancient Basques, Ellis writes, to cross the Atlantic 500 years before Columbus; it spawned a great New England-based industry that helped the United States to become a seagoing power in the 19th century (and that produced one of America's greatest novels, Herman Melville's Moby-Dick); and it ultimately led to conflicts between nations, as some industrial powers sought to protect the great marine mammals while others continued to hunt them nearly to extinction. Ellis's book is among the finest in the library devoted to cetaceans; he packs an astonishing array of folklore, anthropology, history, and science into these 500 richly illustrated pages (and the photographs and drawings alone are worth the book's price). Noting with regret that "most of the accumulated knowledge of the animals has come from those who have killed them," Ellis overlooks nothing that even remotely touches upon these giants of the deep, and the well-written story that emerges is full of respect and affection for humans and whales alike. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:27 -0400)

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