Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America

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A complete and detailed history of whaling in America, starting with precolonial times and culminating with the demise of American whaling in the early 20th century. It shows how enormous the whaling industry was and the riches it brought to many. The story gives great detail on the process of hunting whales and rendering their bodies into salable products.

Profits from whaling were immense in the golden years, but waned when buffeted by political events mainly wars and economic impacts. The advent of petroleum used for lighting and lubrication in the late 19th century marked the inexorable decline of whaling as a viable economic venture.


Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America (Paperback)

The book focuses extensively on the whaling community in Nantucket, but gave also insights into other whaling towns in the East. Whaling also had major international implications, principally with England whose policies closely impacted on the success of whaling. When faced with a choice between patriotism to America and collaboration with England, the Nantucketeers made preservation of their economic interests their main aim. The author makes clear at the onset that he will not address the ethics and environmental aspects of whaling; the sensibilities most Americans hold about whaling today.

That's fair as this is a history looking back to a time of different cultural views and economic necessities. Eric Jay Dolan offers an intriguing and in-depth look at the history of whale hunting in the United States. Drawing from primary sources as well as previous studies, Dolan adopts a journalistic approach without attempting to judge the past.

Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America | Eric Jay Dolin

He is especially adept at using the sources to paint a picture of life in the colonies and early nation -- one gets a real sense of the life of whaling communities and the joys and sorrows they experienced. A great read for anyone interested in learning more about early American history. A thorough and deeply researched history of the American whaling industry. Great read from start to finish. This is a wonderfully researched book that provides the reader with a terrific overview of the history of whaling and the importance of the industry in years past.

However, I found the writing style quite distant. The book read more like a history lesson than an emotive account of the industry. Here at Walmart. Your email address will never be sold or distributed to a third party for any reason. Due to the high volume of feedback, we are unable to respond to individual comments. Sorry, but we can't respond to individual comments.

There She Blew

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Citation metadata

Thus the first known account of drift whaling, the use of creatures cast by nature upon the shore, by English colonists in North America entered into the historical record. In the roughly three centuries that followed, those interested in exploiting the whale looked progressively farther afield for the bounty of the seas. The small boats used by early shore whalers gradually gave way to ocean-going vessels from places like Nantucket and New Bedford.

Customer Reviews

On board these ships men sailed around the world and back again in search of the profits to be made on the sale of products taken from whales: oil, baleen, spermaceti, and ambergris. Eric Jay Dolin's Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America offers an enjoyable and highly readable account of the industry's advent, maturation, apex in the "golden age of whaling," and ultimate decline.

Technology and Culture

At its heart, Leviathan is a work of historical synthesis offering relatively little information or interpretation that is truly new. Readers well versed in the history of American whaling will observe the clear influence of a number of the field's major texts on Dolin's work, including quite prominently Alexander Starbuck's classic History of the American Whale Fishery in the text's earliest pages. Unfortunately, within the text there are a number of questionable, imprecise and ambiguous passages, two examples of which will suffice.

The shore whaling industry, readers are told, demanded so much labor that "Capt. An unknown error has occurred.