by Nathaniel Philbrick
This is a seafaring story based on the records of a real whaling ship, The Essex, which was the basis of the story Moby Dick. It's about a ship that actually was attacked by a whale, as recorded in the ship's log and private notes written by a cabin boy.
My first impressions of the story were very positive. The narrative seemed to find the right balance between moving the story forward at a relaxed pace and filling in technical information that would allow the reader to appreciate the mechanics of operating an old style sailing ship and the value of an experienced crew. Unfortunately much of this crew lacked that experience and response time when they hit a storm made all the difference.
The quality held up all through and the trials and privations of shipwrecked sailors became disturbingly familiar, Even the difficulties the survivors had when they returned to civilization hit home in a way that only comes of very effective writing. I felt as if I had been there and gone through all that they had experienced.
Knowing that this is a true story and learning about the customs and daily lives of the sailors was fascinating to say the least. Despite the unpleasant situations, I really enjoyed the read. I came out of it feeling like I had lived in Nantucket in its glory days of the whaling industry, like I'd sailed on a whaling ship, and like I had experienced the horrors of living day to day, adrift at sea. You can ask for more from a story based on facts.