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In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
From an Amazon reader: "Philbrick's book is 'off the charts' excellent ... [it provides] a view of the voyage preceding the incident and its aftermath, the whaling industry and Nantucket itself. The Quaker influence on the Nantucket whaling trade is an intriguing story in itself. This is a simply wonderful and well-written book. From the first chapter the reader gets the feeling of being swept up into a developing catastrophe. I only wish I still had this book yet to read. No wonder this story inspired one of the greatest American novels ever written; Moby Dick." (2001)

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Interesting.com: history and stuff