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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best-selling author of seagoing epics now celebrates an American classic.Moby-Dick is perhaps the greatest of the Great American Novels, yet its length and esoteric subject matter create an aura of difficulty that too often keeps readers at bay. Fortunately, one unabashed fan wants passionately to give Melville's masterpiece the broad contemporary audience it deserves.
In his National Book Award- winning best seller, In the Heart of the Sea, Nathaniel Philbrick captivatingly unpacked the story of the wreck of the whaleship Essex, the real-life incident that inspired Melville to write Moby- Dick. Now, he sets his sights on the fiction itself, offering a cabin master's tour of a spellbinding novel rich with adventure and history.
Philbrick skillfully navigates Melville's world and illuminates the book's humor and unforgettable characters-finding the thread that binds Ishmael and Ahab to our own time and, indeed, to all times. A perfect match between author and subject, Why Read Moby-Dick? gives us a renewed appreciation of both Melville and the proud seaman's town of Nantucket that Philbrick himself calls home. Like Alain de Botton's How Proust Can Change Your Life, this remarkable little book will start conversations, inspire arguments, and, best of all, bring a new wave of readers to a classic tale waiting to be discovered anew.
©2011 Nathaniel Philbrick (P)2011 Penguin
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Darwin8u on 10-20-12

A beautiful love letter to an amazing novel

A nice series of loose essays exploring Moby-Dick (don't forget the fierce harpooned-like hyphen), Melville's life and Melville's relationship with the shy Hawthorne. It is a good but way-too-way short look at the annihilation of writing perhaps the greatest of American novels. WRM-D? is a beautiful love letter to an amazing novel and one of America greatest wandering, stoic poets; born 50 years too soon to recognize the joy or satisfaction of seeing his own pages being cut in 20th Century and the Modern world.

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18 of 19 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Tad Davis on 11-09-11

Good introduction to the book

If you're planning to read (or listen to) "Moby Dick," you might want to give this short audiobook a try first. It's a useful audio introduction; it will clue you in to at least some of what Melville was trying to do and what his life circumstances were when he undertook to write the book. (I never knew, for example, that his first draft was a more conventional whaling yarn, and that it was only after meeting Nathaniel Hawthorne that he began to re-envision the story as a much darker, more cosmic tale.)

Philbrick does a good job describing his own thoughts and the basic facts of the case. He's much less effective as a narrator when he's reading passages from the novel, which happens quite a bit: if you've experienced Anthony Heald, Frank Muller, or one of the other outstanding narrators of the book on Audible, it will be hard at times to hear Philbrick going through the same material. It's not that he's really BAD, it's just that his straight-ahead delivery is very much at odds with the flights of language so common in Melville.

Still, as I said, it's a useful introduction; it has a lot to say about Melville, whaling, mid-nineteenth-century America, the Bible, Shakespeare, and literature in general. I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in "Moby Dick."

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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