Wreck of the Whale Ship Essex: The Complete: The Extraordinary and Distressing Memoir That Inspired Herman Melville's Moby-Dick

Author(s): Owen Chase


Owen Chase was the first mate on the ill-fated American whaling ship Essex, which was attacked and sunk by a sperm whale in the southern Pacific Ocean in 1820. The crew spent months at sea in leaking boats and endured the blazing sun, attacks by killer whales, and lack of food. The men were forced to resort to cannibalism before the final eight survivors were rescued. Herman Melville based his 1851 novel, Moby-Dick, on this sinking. Chase recorded the tale of the ship's sinking and the following events with harrowing clarity in the Wreck of the Whale Ship Essex: "I turned around and saw him about one hundred rods [500 m or 550 yards] directly ahead of us, coming down with twice his ordinary speed of around 24 knots (44 km/h), and it appeared with tenfold fury and vengeance in his aspect. The surf flew in all directions about him with the continual violent thrashing of his tail. His head about half out of the water, and in that way he came upon us, and again struck the ship." Filled throughout with period and contemporary art, photographs, maps, and artifacts, this is a beautifully illustrated edition of a classic American memoir, augmented with the writings of other participants, as well as the perspectives of period and contemporary historians


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"His narrative comes to life in this new, illustrated version, filled with more than 200 photographs, maps, fine-art prints and drawings." - Boston Globe "If you enjoy tales of the sea as much as I do, you'll find this revamped edition of Wreck of the Whale Ship Essex an excellent addition to your library." - Passage Maker "This is a handsome volume, of which Chase would have been proud, and Melville would have acclaimed for its vivid illustrations that make realistic the long gone fishery he described. It stands on its own merit as a beautiful book to tell Chase's tale again, and bring back visual reminders of a sea trade that changed the world (and literature), and is now gone forever." - Columbus Dispatch

Owen Chase was first mate of the whale ship Essex, which was struck and sunk by asperm whale on November 20, 1820. Chase wrote about the incident in Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex. This book, published in 1821, inspired Herman Melville to write Moby-Dick. GILBERT ANTHONY KING is an American writer and photographer who won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America (2012). He is also the author of The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder, and the Search for Justice in the American South and has written for newspaper such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.

General Fields

  • : 9780760357361
  • : Motorbooks International
  • : Zenith Press
  • : June 2017
  • : 276mm X 234mm X 25mm
  • : United States
  • : June 2017
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Owen Chase
  • : Paperback
  • : Illustrated edition
  • : English
  • : 910.91649
  • : General Adult
  • : 224
  • : 150 color photos-illustrations