The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex
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Owen Chase was the first mate on the Essex, the Nantucket whaler that was holed and sunk in 1820 by an enraged sperm whale twice ramming the ship. With no charts and few provisions, the crew escaped on three lifeboats; months later, having resorted to cannibalism, only eight men had survived. Chase's account evokes the terror of the attack and the men's endurance on the open Pacific Ocean, a 'gallant saga' which inspired Melville to write Moby Dick. Chase's narrative was originally published in 1821.