Summer Reading

Words gone wild! The best and the breeziest for beating the heat in 2002

Summer Reading
Illustration By Terri Lord

In the history of mutiny, the Bounty is by far the most famous. In the annals of American maritime history, however, the 1825 Globe in the South Pacific -- once celebrated, now forgotten -- was the bloodiest. It was the subject of three books at the time, one by the brother of mutinous instigator Samuel Comstock. Demon of the Waters: The True History of the Mutiny on the Whaleship Globe (Little, Brown, $24.95) tells not only the story of the uprising, but also those of a rare-book scout, a newfound journal from a Globe crewman, and the quest to discover whether the Globe inspired Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Gregory Gibson reveals in grim detail the brutal, demanding, and dangerous whaling business' heyday, when it bustled from Nantucket to the South Seas. It's astonishing to read, for example, that the Herculean efforts to capture leviathans were undertaken by men in their teens and twenties, not the seasoned old salts of lore. And Gibson's account of Comstock's shipboard rebellion carries a strange, satisfying morality that makes up for his florid language and occasionally dry topic. No connection with Moby Dick has been confirmed, but that leaves Demon of the Waters with its own kind of mystery, as deep and alluring as the ocean itself.

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