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Extended Audio Sample Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America Audiobook, by Eric Jay Dolin Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (287 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Eric Jay Dolin Narrator: James Boles Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2007 ISBN: 9781400174843
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This is the epic history of the "iron men in wooden boats" who built an industrial empire through the pursuit of whales. "To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme," Herman Melville proclaimed, and this absorbing history demonstrates that few things can capture the sheer danger and desperation of men on the deep sea as dramatically as whaling. Eric Jay Dolin begins his vivid narrative with Captain John Smith's botched whaling expedition to the New World in 1614. He then chronicles the rise of a burgeoning industry-from its brutal struggles during the Revolutionary period to its golden age in the mid-1800s, when a fleet of more than 700 ships hunted the seas and American whale oil lit the world-to its decline as the twentieth century dawned. This sweeping social and economic history provides rich and often fantastic accounts of the men themselves, who mutinied, murdered, rioted, deserted, drank, scrimshawed, and recorded their experiences in journals and memoirs. Containing a wealth of naturalistic detail on whales, Leviathan is the most original and stirring history of American whaling in many decades. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • An exhaustive, richly detailed history of industrial American whaling.... A real taste of the vile life aboard a whaleship and a cleareyed analysis of the cutthroat tactics of the whale-oil trade. The New York Times
  • “An exhaustive, richly detailed history of industrial American whaling…A real taste of the vile life aboard a whaleship and a cleareyed analysis of the cutthroat tactics of the whale-oil trade.”

    New York Times

  • “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”

    Boston Globe

  • “Engrossing…This account is at once grand and quirky, entertaining and informative.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “James Boles reads this well-organized history with a steadiness and clarity that keeps you listening.”

    AudioFile

  • Boston Globe Book of the Year
  • Los Angeles Times Best Book
  • Amazon Best Book

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nick | 2/16/2014

    " I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It goes into great detail about the rise of the whaling industry in America and the whaling culture of America during the industries heyday. The idea of taking to the ocean for 4 years at a time, in small wooden ships, to hunt these huge creatures of the deep, strikes me as both ludicrous and thrilling. I find the stories of the ships, towns and individuals who lived and breathed whaling absolutely fascinating. These individuals (both men and women) lived very hard lives and the industry they toiled in nearly wiped out several whale species, and yet there seens to be a charm to this bygone era. It is such a foreign world compared to today and yet our world of today probably would not exist without the aid of whale oil. Whale oil helped light the urban centers of the world (i.e. London and New York) and in doing so contributed to their massive growth. I completely recommend this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christopher | 2/7/2014

    " A thorough survey, it is exciting without being sensational (except when necessary). Now it makes more sense to me why people would risk their lives in this way -They didn't have any other options. This is also a great tale of the 'independent Yankee' spirt' industrious, independent and forward looking as it was. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dariggle | 2/1/2014

    " Great account of America's first industry. Whaling provided 50% of the export revenue to the colony in the 1760s, and was a major industry up to the 1850s, supporting the lighting and corset industries with product. Makes on want to read Moby Dick. Nice history of the whaling ports of Nantucket, New Bedford and others. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lucy | 1/27/2014

    " It made me really want to go back to the New Bedford Whaling Museum. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patrick | 1/27/2014

    " Excellent book on the history of whaling in America. The author has done an excellent job in turning a subject that may, at first, sound a bit dry, into a fascinating tale that kept me turning the pages. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maureen Flatley | 1/22/2014

    " Sweeping history of a little known element of American history. Loved it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kenno82 | 1/21/2014

    " This is a wonderfully researched book that provides the reader with a terrific overview of the history of whaling and the importance of the industry in years past. However, I found the writing style quite distant. The book read more like a history lesson than an emotive account of the industry. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mike Zoleski | 1/19/2014

    " Great Learned so much about CAPE COD and the QUAKERS "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Monica Perez | 12/27/2013

    " A thorough, well-written and interesting history of whaling in america. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gisselle | 12/26/2013

    " The first chapter and the parts about Nantucket were a bit slow, but the descriptions of whaling were riveting and the author told the story well. Recommended. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Drew | 12/18/2013

    " This book was a leviathan to read. About 1/2 of the book was interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chad | 11/24/2013

    " Fast paced history of American whaling, an industry that helped to build up our burgeoning commercial dominance in the early decades of our country. Good read, though a little dry in parts. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ben | 11/1/2013

    " Dry, almost academic, recounting of north american whaling up to the early 20th century. Doesn't try to make any broad assumptions or dray connection that aren't there. Well reported and fascinating subject. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 6/9/2013

    " Very interesting, I didn't get bored at all. I think in another life I was a pirate or a whaleship captain! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alasdair | 2/26/2013

    " This is a wonderfully told story of the life and death of an industry, and almost a species. It intercedes between the history of whaling itself and a aprticular period in American history. The one regret I have is that it covered the decline of the industry rather too quickly. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 ebnewberry Newberry | 1/1/2013

    " This book is a fascinating glimpse at an industry that had deep reaching effects on most facets of American life. It is fascinating and well written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alan | 10/25/2012

    " I picked this up randomly at the library, but being from a Whaling town I was really curious. It was an excellent overview of the industry and late 19th Century history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Megan Getrum | 2/27/2012

    " Interesting and easy to read overview of American whaling. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joshua | 12/4/2011

    " A great overview of historical fishing. Blends the history and the biology nicely in a nice narrative style. I will be using this for my class in historical ecology next year "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Barbara | 10/26/2011

    " It's well done but overall it didn't tell me anything I hadn't already learned by reading through the shelf full of whaling history books I bought eons ago. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rick Boyer | 7/17/2011

    " Loved it! If you enjoy American history and stories of the sea, you will like this book! Impeccably researched and documented. A real joy! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 6/16/2011

    " The history was good, but the subject was very sad. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sydney | 4/8/2011

    " Very interesting, and more than a little sad. Important read for Americans or anyone who is a consumer or has an impact on their environment. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dot | 3/8/2011

    " Another suprising look about our past. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lee | 12/3/2010

    " Informative and shocking. A true tale of human greed and wanton waste. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bill | 11/15/2010

    " Interesting study of the geo-political impact of the fur trade during the 18th and 19th century. I found the first half of the book a bit dry but enjoyed the reading about the western fur trade during the post colonial period. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy | 8/8/2010

    " Very good. Interesting to look at the early history of the US from a more economic mercantile standpoint. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 7/15/2010

    " Very interesting! I really liked it, of course I love history and this is a part of history that has been put under a microscope. Eric Dolan did a fabulous job! "

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About the Author
Author Eric Jay Dolin

Eric Jay Dolin is the author of Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America, which was chosen as one of the best nonfiction books of 2007 by the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe. It also won the 2007 John Lyman Award for US Maritime History.

About the Narrator

James Boles is an accomplished audiobook narrator whose work includes such titles as Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town by Nate Blakeslee and A Disorder Peculiar to the Country by Ken Kalfus. He is also an award-winning stage actor. He lives in Stratford, Connecticut.