Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-ship Essex

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On November 20, 1820, a sperm whale struck and sunk the whaling ship Essex, stranding the 21 crew members who escaped on three whale-boats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 2000 miles from land. Up against rough storms, vicious sharks, and desperation leading to cannibalism, only eight men survived. One was First Mate Owen Chase, who published this account of the disaster. His story served as real-life inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.