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Distributed for ForeEdge

Surviving the Essex

The Afterlife of America’s Most Storied Shipwreck

Distributed for ForeEdge

Surviving the Essex

The Afterlife of America’s Most Storied Shipwreck

Surviving the “Essex” tells the captivating story of a ship’s crew battered by whale attack, broken by four months at sea, and forced—out of necessity—to make meals of their fellow survivors. Exploring the Rashomon-like Essex accounts that complicate and even contradict first mate Owen Chase’s narrative, David O. Dowling examines the vital role of viewpoint in shaping how an event is remembered and delves into the ordeal’s submerged history—the survivors’ lives, ambitions, and motives, their pivotal actions during the desperate moments of the wreck itself, and their will to reconcile those actions in the short- and long-term aftermath of this storied event. Mother of all whale tales, Surviving the “Essex” acts as a sequel to Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea, while probing deeper into the nature of trauma and survival accounts, an extreme form of notoriety, and the impact that the story had on Herman Melville and the writing of Moby-Dick.

240 pages | 6 x 9

History: American History


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments • Prologue • Who Shot Owen Coffin? • Damage Control • Nickerson and Lewis: Selling the Tale • Lightning Strikes Twice: The Two Brothers • Night Watchman • The Real Ahab • Coda: A Whale’s Motives • Notes • Index

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