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adventure & exploration
New England

Oil & Ice: A Story of Arctic Disaster and the Rise and Fall of America's Last Whaling Dynasty

Peter Nichols.
Publisher Penguin  
Format paperback
Product Dimensions 7.95 x 5.25 x 0.6 inches
ISBN 9780143118367
Pages/Publication Date 294/2009
Daedalus Item Code 36294
This item is not available.
In 1871, an American whaling fleet was destroyed in an arctic ice storm. Miraculously, more than 1200 men, women, and children survived, but the damage to America's whale oil industry was catastrophic. In this book, previously published as Final Voyage, screenwriter, sailor, and ship wrangler Peter Nichols tells a gripping story of that fateful season, illuminating the rise and fall of America's first oil economy, and presaging the rise and fall of the second.

"Peter Nichols has crafted a terrifyingly relevant historical narrative. As he demonstrates in riveting and fascinating detail, America's current addiction to petroleum was anticipated by its ultimately disastrous dependence on whale oil. [This] is a terrific read."—Nathaniel Philbrick

"Chronicling the downfall of the vast whaling industry developed in New England over the 18th and 19th centuries, author Nichols presents both an illuminating portrait of Quaker life and industry, and a heart-pounding tale of danger on the open sea. Nichols has a rich understanding of the whale oil ('oyl') industry, and recreates the atmosphere of whaling voyages and villages, particularly wealthy New Bedford, Massachusetts, in sensuous detail: 'Emissions of greasy particulate settled over the town like a glaze and gave it the permanent odor of burnt flesh and fat.' A collection of ships' logbooks and letters from whaling captains give character to the phenomenal victories and challenges the seamen—and their family—faced. There is a lot to admire in the whalers; their captains 'were master mariners and navigators, among the canniest and most skillful in human history,' and their task enormous. Although death and loss were common in the hunt, the 1871 season recounted here marked the beginning of the end for the oyl industry."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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