Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Best Lead of the Month

'If, under the spell of Moby-Dick, you decided to run away to the modern equivalent of whaling, where would you go? Because petroleum displaced whale oil as a source of light and lubrication more than a century ago, it might seem logical to join workers in Arabian oil fields or on drilling platforms at sea. On the other hand, firemen, like whalers, are united by their care for one another and for the vehicle that bears them, and the fireman’s alacrity with ladders and hoses resembles the whaler’s with masts and ropes. Then, there are the armed forces, which, like a nineteenth-century whaleship, can take you around the world in the company of people from ethnic and social backgrounds unfamiliar to you. All these lines of work are dangerous but indispensable, as whaling once was, but none seem perfectly analogous. Ultimately, there is nothing like rowing a little boat up to a sixty-ton mammal that swims, stabbing it, and hoping that it dies a relatively well-mannered death.'
--from Caleb Crain's New Yorker review of Eric Jay Dolin's Leviathan, an anecdotal history of the American whaling industry. To review past best leads of the month, go here & here.


At 10:52 AM, Anonymous dailytri said...

There's a great book I read last Winter, "Into the Heart of the Sea," by Nathanial Philbrick that tells a true story about the whaling industry in the 1800s. I couldn't put it down.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Thanks. I'll give that a scan when I next find myself at a bookstore. This subject seems to be of continuing interest, no doubt in part because of Moby-Dick.


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