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About the Author

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, and also won the 2007 John Lyman Award for U. S. Maritime History; and Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America. He is also the author of When America First Met China: An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money in the Age of Sail. A graduate of Brown, Yale, and MIT, where he received his Ph.D. in environmental policy, he lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children.


In this engrossing account, Dolin (Political Waters) chronicles the epic history of the American whaling industry, which peaked in the mid-18th century as "American whale oil lit the world." Temporarily dealt a blow by the Revolutionary War, whaling grew tremendously in the first half of the 19th century, and then diminished after the 1870s, in part because of the rise of petroleum. Many of America's pivotal moments were bound up with whaling: the ships raided during the Boston Tea Party, for example, carried whale oil from Nantucket to London before loading up with tea. Dolin also shows the ways whaling intersected with colonial conquest of Native Americans-had Indians not sold white settlers crucial coastal land, for example, Nantucket's whaling industry wouldn't have gotten off the ground. He sketches the complex relationship between whaling and slavery: service on a whaler served as a means of escape for some slaves, and whalers were occasionally converted into slave ships. This account is at once grand and quirky, entertaining and informative. 32 pages of illus. (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"...perfect summer reading, especially if you happen to be spending the summer by the sea, or on it." -- Adam Kirsch - New York Sun "Leviathan is an exhaustive, richly detailed history of industrial American whaling...Dolin succeeds admirably at what he sets out to do: tell the story of one of the strangest industries in American history." -- Bruce Barcott - New York Times "Starred Review. Engrossing once grand and quirky, entertaining and informative." -- Publishers Weekly "Mr. Dolin handles this long, complex tale with great skill, both as a historian and as a writer (the bibliography and illustrations are splended too)...Leviathan is thoroughly engaging." -- John Steele Gordon - The Wall Street Journal

Ask the average reader about whaling, and all you'll get back (except possibly in New England) is Moby Dick and Free Willy. Most people are unaware of the major role played by the whaling industry in the history and economy of America in the 18th and 19th centuries. This book will definitely help correct that lack of knowledge. Dolin, a fisheries policy analyst with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Gloucester, MA, has used the extensive local museum and library resources available to him to provide a comprehensive and well-written account of North American whaling from the earliest Indians to the last wooden whaling ship to leave New Bedford, MA, in 1924. The author clearly states that this is not a book about the ethics of commercial whaling or the conservation of whales. It is meant to show the numerous ways in which whaling influenced U.S. culture, and this it does extremely well. The extensive notes and bibliography will provide a launch pad for the reader who wants more. Highly recommended for all high school, academic, and public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/07.]-Margaret Rioux, Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst., MA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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