The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex

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9780156006897: The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex

On the morning of November 20, 1820, in the Pacific Ocean, an enraged sperm whale rammed the Nantucket whaler Essex. As the boat began to sink, her crew of thirty had time only to collect some bread and water before pulling away in three frail open boats. Without charts, alone on the open seas, and thousands of miles from any known land, the sailors began their terrifying journey of survival. Ninety days later, after much suffering and death by starvation, intense heat, and dehydration, only eight men survived to reach land. One of them was Owen Chase, first mate of the ill-fated ship, whose account of the long and perilous journey has become a classic of endurance and human courage. The elements of his tale inspired Herman Melville (who was born the year the Essex sank) to write the classic Moby Dick. A gallant saga of the sea, this riveting narration of life and death, of man against the deep, will enthrall readers.

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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

About the Author:

Iola Haverstick was a reporter for Life for several years. She is a former book editor and reviewer.

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Book Description Harcourt Brace International, United States, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New edition. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. On the morning of November 20, 1820, in the Pacific Ocean, an enraged sperm whale rammed the Nantucket whaler Essex. As the boat began to sink, her crew of thirty had time only to collect some bread and water before pulling away in three frail open boats. Without charts, alone on the open seas, and thousands of miles from any known land, the sailors began their terrifying journey of survival. Ninety days later, after much suffering and death by starvation, intense heat, and dehydration, only eight men survived to reach land. One of them was Owen Chase, first mate of the ill-fated ship, whose account of the long and perilous journey has become a classic of endurance and human courage. The elements of his tale inspired Herman Melville (who was born the year the Essex sank) to write the classic Moby Dick. A gallant saga of the sea, this riveting narration of life and death, of man against the deep, will enthrall readers. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780156006897

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Book Description Harcourt Brace International, United States, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New edition. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.On the morning of November 20, 1820, in the Pacific Ocean, an enraged sperm whale rammed the Nantucket whaler Essex. As the boat began to sink, her crew of thirty had time only to collect some bread and water before pulling away in three frail open boats. Without charts, alone on the open seas, and thousands of miles from any known land, the sailors began their terrifying journey of survival. Ninety days later, after much suffering and death by starvation, intense heat, and dehydration, only eight men survived to reach land. One of them was Owen Chase, first mate of the ill-fated ship, whose account of the long and perilous journey has become a classic of endurance and human courage. The elements of his tale inspired Herman Melville (who was born the year the Essex sank) to write the classic Moby Dick. A gallant saga of the sea, this riveting narration of life and death, of man against the deep, will enthrall readers. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780156006897

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