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Wreck of the Whale Ship Essex - Illustrated…
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Wreck of the Whale Ship Essex - Illustrated - NARRATIVE OF THE MOST… (edition 2015)

by Owen Chase (Author), Huggins Point Editors (Editor)

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492731,470 (3.86)19
Member:djryan
Title:Wreck of the Whale Ship Essex - Illustrated - NARRATIVE OF THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY AND DISTRESSING SHIPWRECK OF THE WHALE-SHIP ESSEX: Original News Stories of Whale Attacks & Cannibals
Authors:Owen Chase (Author)
Other authors:Huggins Point Editors (Editor)
Info:Huggins Point Publishing Co. (2015), 176 pages
Collections:Kindle, eBook, Your library
Rating:***
Tags:history, non-fiction

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The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex by Owen Chase

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Compelling first hand account of the incredible survival story of various members of the Essex whaler, sunk by an 85 foot sperm whale in the Pacific thousands of miles from the South American coast. Written by the ship's first mate Owen Chase, this brief book is a must read on many levels. Truth really can be stranger than fiction. ( )
  la2bkk | Jan 18, 2016 |
This is the same book that was originally published in 1821 as Narratives of the Wreck of the Whale-Ship Essex. It's fantastic. I'm immediately recommended it to my husband as a quick and engrossing non-fiction book. Herman Melville based a good deal of Moby-Dick on this narrative. I read it because I'm doing a historical presentation on Moby-Dick. I'll probably read it again just for the fun of it.

This is the first-person account of the disaster of the Essex by the first mate. The Essex was sunk by a whale and all hands had to escape in the whale boats 1000 miles from land. Chase's narrative is straight forward but wow, he has you in the boat with him. The hardships they endured are astounding but so is the ingenuity and will to live that the sailors displayed. They dealt with hunger, thirst, heat, sharks and eventually had to make very tough decisions to stay alive. Eight of the initial crew of 20 made it home. If you love a good adventure story or a good survival story or just a good story, this is it. For having been written in 1821, the language is very accessible. Highly recommended.

I was fortunately able to get this book from Netgalley in exchange for review. ( )
  Mrsbaty | Apr 6, 2015 |
The Essex is one of the stories that inspired Moby-Dick, the other being the legend of Mocha Dick, an albino sperm whale who was a dick. This edition collects every first- or firstish-hand account of the Essex, which is almost certainly more than you need.

The main narrative, and the one Melville got his hands on, is that of first mate Owen Chase. As a true adventure story, it's pretty great. Gripping stuff. Surprisingly well [almost certainly ghost-]written.

As a companion read to Moby-Dick, though, it's not terribly helpful. The description of the actual fight with the whale has clear connections to Moby-Dick, particularly in a short passage describing the strength of a sperm whale's head; it's the inspiration for chapter 76, which is an entire chapter about sperm whale heads because that's how Melville rolls.

The other major narrative here is by a cabin boy named Nickerson, and it's even less useful. He goes into much greater length about the pre-ramming part of the trip, which is a little fun - he's a kid, so he's mostly interested in relating awesome stories about pirates that he heard from other people - but once the ramming happens, he basically plagiarizes Chase the rest of the way.

There are also some notes by Melville that are nowhere near as interesting as you'd like them to be - mostly concerned with starfuckerish descriptions of his own encounter with Chase - and some random other letters and bits, dimly interesting due to the lack of agreement about who exactly shot Owen Coffin.

Four stars for being a great survival story; two stars for we didn't really need all that other stuff. ( )
  AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
Terrific account of the trials and tribulations of the crew of the Whaleship Essex, who faced starvation and a drift across the ocean after a whale sank their ship. Chase's style, explaining the events and the lengths the crew had to go to to survive is plainly told making it very compelling. This is the book that inspired Herman Melville's "Moby Dick." ( )
  amerynth | Nov 24, 2009 |
Read it for the thrilling account of the sole recorded instance of a whale fighting back and winning. Compulsive. ( )
  kropotkin | Aug 15, 2006 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Owen Chaseprimary authorall editionscalculated
Nickerson, ThomasContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156006898, Paperback)

On November 20, 1820, a sperm whale repeatedly rammed the whaleship Essex, causing her to sink. The 20-man crew were left in three small, open boats in the middle of the Pacific with little food and only 200 gallons of water. Bereft of charts, the boats sailed due east in the hopes of sighting land. Battered by storms, the boats became separated. Some 90 days later, a few men were rescued--but not before they had been forced to make a terrible decision.
I have no language to paint the horrors of our situation. To shed tears was indeed altogether unavailing and withal unmanly; yet I was not able to deny myself the relief they served to afford me.
This harrowing, first-hand account by First Mate Owen Chase was originally published in 1821, just months after he returned home to Nantucket, and the unfortunate Essex and her crew passed into legend. Twenty years after the wreck, young William Chase, Owen's son, was serving on the Lima when it met another whaler called the Acushnet. The crews spent some time together, and Chase told his father's story to 21-year-old Herman Melville, and lent him a copy of his father's book. The story clearly caught Melville's imagination--"The reading of this wondrous story upon the landless sea, and close to the very latitude of the shipwreck had a surprising effect on me"--and ten years later he published Moby Dick. Literary inspiration aside, The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex is a well-told, truly gripping tale. As Gary Kinder (who, as the author of Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea, knows a thing or two about shipwrecks) notes in his introduction, "As you sit in your chair, the subliminal thought recurs: My god, this really happened." --Sunny Delaney

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:58 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

In 1820, the Nantucket whaleship "Essex", thousands of miles from home in the South Pacific, was rammed by an angry sperm whale. The ship sank, leaving 20 crew members floating in three small boats. The incident provided the inspiration for Melville's masterpiece, "Moby Dick". A riveting tale of history and true-life adventure, this classic edition combines first-person narratives of the doomed voyage of the whaleship with every relevant contemporary account.… (more)

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