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Ahab's Trade - The Saga of South Seas Whaling
Mawer, Granville Allen
Gladiator one minute, galley slave the next. Danger and abuse, excitement and tedium, these were the lot of open boat whalemen in the South Seas for more than two centuries. By the end of those centuries of struggle and adversity they had explored and exploited every corner of the world ocean in the hunt for the spermaceti whale, and charted much of it to boot.The Nantucketers, first and best, taught the world. Then manifest destiny beckoned over the oceans as well as across a continent and the Americans made the Savage South their other frontier, as open and lawless as the Wild West.Ahab's Trade tracks the rise and fall of this first truly global industry and tells the stories of the men who made it. Although they whaled in American, British, French, Australian and New Zealand ships, their calling made them citizens of a separate, closed and isolated world quite unlike that even of other seamen.This book describes that world and its unique pressures. Most whalemen dealt with those pressures, but some were unhinged in ways that made Captain Ahab's obsession with the white whale seem like a minor eccentricity.The good, the mad and the ugly: they are all here to tell their stories and describe a way of life so strange that its survival into our century is almost incomprehensible...
Second hand Hardback