Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America
By Eric Jay Dolin
Well into the 19th century, New England was the center of the whaling industry, first on Nantucket, then at New Bedford. It was a business whose profits were matched by its legends. This is a lively and thorough history, with the author well-suited to sort out the fish tales and the sometimes ugly truths of a violent, pressure-filled venture. The author describes how the growing push for profit tended to favor investors and captains over ordinary whalemen, whose lot grew increasingly dismal. This inequity led to unrest aboard ships and a string of mutinies. Such tensions would serve as an inspiration to whaling veteran Herman Melville, who explored them in his masterwork, "Moby-Dick."
—Michael Kenney / Globe Correspondent