Few trades were so demanding and dangerous as whaling. The hunt for the whale and its precious oil, bone and ambergris took sailors to the frozen ends of the earth, on voyages that lasted years at a time. Harpoons were thrown by hand from an open boat, which at any moment the whale could reduce to matchwood with a single blow of its tail. This book is not a history of whaling, but the story of the whalehunters themselves. It tells of the experiences of men from little Scottish ports who risked everything for a tiny share in whatever their whaling ships managed to catch. Making a living in this way involved extraordinary adventures, harrowing ordeals and grinding labour: and a courage that was prepared to confront the mystery and terror of the sea.
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