[UCP Books]: Ahab's Rolling Sea: A Natural History of "Moby-Dick" by Richard J. King


“A fresh look at Melville’s book—published in the same decade as Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species—with the well-defined brief of assessing its natural history content. The result is a light-hearted and incredibly enjoyable read that manages somehow, at the right moments, to be both broad and narrow in scope. It should be required reading for anyone attempting Moby-Dick.”



“Focusing on nineteenth century oceanography, natural history, and, of course, the whalers’ understanding of his prey’s remarkable intelligence, King’s book is a fascinating and rare thing: a vital addition to Melville studies.”


“Ahab’s Rolling Sea highlights our destructiveness as it teases fact from fiction in Moby-Dick, the obsessive hunt for a great white whale. . . . Rigorous. . . . Original.”
—New Scientist


“A marvelous guide to the magic and mystery that was Melville’s gift to us, for King reveals the deep, deep backstory of the making of Moby-Dick.”
—Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and Becoming Wild



Ahab's Rolling Sea

A Natural History of "Moby-Dick"


Richard J. King


US Publication Date: November 19, 2019 International Publication Date: December 9, 2019
464 pages | 12 color plates, 71 halftones | 6 x 9 | ISBN-13: 978-0-226-51496-3 | Cloth $30.00/£23.00



As 2019 marks the bicentennial of Herman Melville’s birth, Ahab’s Rolling Sea is an epic reminder that we have spent so much time examining the allegorical, religious, and symbolic meanings of Melville’s classic Moby-Dick, we have neglected the natural history of its watery setting. Exploring everything from giant squid to sea birds, sharks to sperm whales, scholar and seafarer Richard J. King combines archival research, contemporary interviews, and personal storytelling to provide a new way of approaching Melville’s sea-yarn: as a book about nature itself. But more than this, King’s eloquent, exhaustive tale is a voyage into humanity’s changing relationship with the sea.



Richard J. King is visiting associate professor of maritime literature and history at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. For more than twenty years he has been sailing and teaching aboard tall ships in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He writes and illustrates a column on marine animals for Sea History magazine, edits the “Searchable Sea Literature” website, and was the founding series editor of Seafaring America. He is the author of Lobster and The Devil’s Cormorant: A Natural History. For more information, visit http://www.richardjking.info/.


Please contact Nicholas Lilly at 773.702.7490 or nlilly@uchicago.edu for more information.



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