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Editorial Reviews

Norman Dietz sounds like a manly grandfather with a history you would be lucky to learn. With an audiobook career longer than a blue whale, he lends his talents here to Peter Nichols’ Final Voyage: A Story of Arctic Disaster and One Fateful Whaling Season.
The title of this non-fiction audiobook is a bit misleading. While the book does cover a particularly harrowing event in the American whaling industry in 1871, it is by no means limited to that disaster. Rather, this is a portrait of the oiling industry of New Bedford, Massachusetts in the 19th century, when Quaker settlers took to the seas and established whale oil as a massively profitable - and doomed - business enterprise. Fans of Moby-Dick, here is the backstory.
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Publisher's Summary

In 1871, an entire fleet of whaling ships was caught in an arctic ice storm and destroyed. Though few lives were lost, the damage would forever shape one of America's most distinctive commodities: oil. New Bedford, Massachusetts, was fertile ground for this country's first multimillion-dollar industry. Founded by assiduous Quaker merchants seeking refuge for their austere religion, the town also lent unparalleled access to the high seas. The combination would lead to what would become the most successful whaling industry in America, and with it, the world's first oil hegemony. Oyl, or oil derived from whale blubber, revolutionized New England commerce. And as intrepid New Bedford whalers ventured farther into uncharted waters in search of untapped resources, the town saw incomparable wealth. But with all of the town's resources tethered to this dangerous industry and the fickle sea, success was fragile. Final Voyage is the story of one fateful whaling season that illuminates the unprecedented rise and devastating fall of America's first oil industry. Peter Nichols deftly captures what New Bedford life was like for its Quaker inhabitants and, using a wealth of primary resources, has created a vivid picture of the evolution of whaling and how its demise was destined even before that devastating voyage.
©2009 Peter Nichols; (P)2009 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Tim on 09-03-10

Approach with caution

The author tends to stray from the subject of the book. I understand that he is trying to place the circumstances surrounding the whaling industry into prospective, but I found the tangents distracting and took up too much of the book. I did not need to know about the rise of Quakers in New England nor the beginning of the petroleum industry in Pennsylvania. I would have preferred concentrating more on the whaling ships and their plight.

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2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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