In the Wake of Madness: The Murderous Voyage of the Whaleship Sharon

In the Wake of Madness The Murderous Voyage of the Whaleship Sharon After than a century of silence the true story of one of history s most notorious mutinies is revealed in Joan Druett s riveting nautical murder mystery USA Today On May the Massachusetts w

  • Title: In the Wake of Madness: The Murderous Voyage of the Whaleship Sharon
  • Author: Joan Druett
  • ISBN: 9781565124356
  • Page: 383
  • Format: Paperback
  • After than a century of silence, the true story of one of history s most notorious mutinies is revealed in Joan Druett s riveting nautical murder mystery USA Today On May 25, 1841, the Massachusetts whaleship Sharon set out for the whaling ground of the northwestern Pacific A year later, while most of the crew was out hunting, Captain Howes Norris was brutally mAfter than a century of silence, the true story of one of history s most notorious mutinies is revealed in Joan Druett s riveting nautical murder mystery USA Today On May 25, 1841, the Massachusetts whaleship Sharon set out for the whaling ground of the northwestern Pacific A year later, while most of the crew was out hunting, Captain Howes Norris was brutally murdered When the men in the whaleboats returned, they found four crew members on board, three of whom were covered in blood, the other screaming from atop the mast Single handedly, the third officer launched a surprise attack to recapture the Sharon, killing two of the attackers and subduing the other An American investigation into the murder was never conducted even when the Sharon returned home three years later, with only four of the original twenty nine crew on board Joan Druett, a historian who s been called a female Patrick O Brian by the Wall Street Journal, dramatically re creates the mystery of the ill fated whaleship and reveals a voyage filled with savagery under the command of one of the most ruthless captains to sail the high seas.

    One thought on “In the Wake of Madness: The Murderous Voyage of the Whaleship Sharon”

    1. A very good book describing the life of sailors aboard a whaling ship in the early 1800s. It tells of the voyage of the Sharon and the incidents that occurred aboard her. To say that Captain Norris was a cruel and demanding Master, would be a huge understatement. It is easy to understand the horrible voyage that was experienced by those who were unlucky enough to be part of her crew.

    2. This true-life tale of a captain so harsh that he was murdered on his own ship had some interesting twists and turns, but the facts were more gripping than the writing. The account of everything after the ship's recapture was draggy, especially the repetitive lists of sailor desertions. I was almost happy to find that the last 60-some pages of its already short page count were appendixes and notes.I'm also starting to think that it's against some nautical nonfiction code for an author to write a [...]

    3. "In the Wake of Madness" is an informative look at the horrifying last voyage of the whaler Sharon. It starts out somewhat slow. I felt throughout much of the first part there was so little known about the story that the authoress was grasping at straws, attempting to supplement the story with other thing not entirely of interest to this reader. Yet, she makes up for this later on as the story picks up momentum. The story is told in superb prose so that the reader feels like they are there witne [...]

    4. I'd give this book one more star if only it included some photos or illustrations of the whaling ships and/or people in it (particularly the captain), but this story of mutiny, cruelty and murder has held my interest.

    5. This was a return at the library that caught my eye. I've always been interested in history, and more recently, maritime history about New England. In the Wake of Madness seemed like the intriguing story of a tragedy that befell a whaleship in the far Pacific Ocean. The write up inside the cover suggested that this book would be the first to answer the question, what really happened the night the captain of the Sharon was killed, and who really were the murderers. I got hooked into the idea that [...]

    6. In 1841, the whaleship Sharon left Fairhaven Massachusetts under the control of Captain Howes Norris. A year later, he was murdered by three Pacific Islanders (who had joined the crew after unprecedented desertions throughout the trip) while the rest of the crew were out whaling. The third mate launched a heroic rescue to re-take the ship from the Islanders, and although that dramatic experience was widely publicized, little was said a the time regarding the reasons behind the murder. Racism at [...]

    7. Part true crime narrative, part social exposé, In the Wake of Madness is also and most prominently a thoroughgoing history of whaling in the mid-nineteenth century. The economics, challenges, and hardships of life aboard a sailing vessel unfolds as author Druett follows the voyage of the whale ship Sharon into remote regions of the Pacific. The Sharon of Fairhaven, Massachusetts is captained by Howes Norris, a family man respected in his community. Ill fortune in the voyage when few whales are [...]

    8. In the Wake of Madness is a quick interesting read about not only the incident that happened on the Whaleship Sharon, but it's a good look at the history of the whaling industry of the first half of the 19th century. In 1841, the captain of the Whaleship Sharon was murdered while in the waters of Polynesia. What followed was a daring re-capture of the ship by the third mate. America became enraptured with this cunning tale of American heroism over the Polynesian murders, but according to Druett, [...]

    9. At its best, whaling was a dirty business. Flogging was common until outlawed at the end of whaling days. Cruises were awful. Food was ghastly and inadequate and some captains reduced food to extend a voyage which might last 3 to 4 years - until they had filled the hole with whale oil - thousands of gallons of oil in the best of voyages gleaned from dozens of dead whales who were flanked, then the carcass left to drift away, food for sharks or whatever.Aside from the Essex and other disasters, t [...]

    10. It was hard to give this three stars rather than two, but again I'd be judging what happens in the story rather than the writing quality itself.Seriously, I listened to this on audiobook, which means you can't skip the passages which descend into brutal detail about the systematic torture of his steward by the Captain of the ship Sharon. There was an almost mutiny about his treatment at the start, and then brutal reprisal, and then all the would be mutineers jumped ship leaving the Steward chain [...]

    11. Another engrossing read about the travels and travails of whaling ships in the 19th century. This particular book follows the Sharon, lead by Captain Norris who lets his lack of success on one particular voyage drive him to brutality, which comes back to bite him. Interesting to read about whaling families on Martha's Vineyard (where I'm from!), and also interesting to read about Benjamin Clough from Maine, who later came to be considered the hero of the voyage, and who went on to lead a very pr [...]

    12. Not bad, but I think it lost a lot of steam after the mutiny. What I did find interesting was that a disproportionate amount of insanity among sea captains existed in the era the author describes. How did this happen? One can speculate that- Captains by their nature are a high strung, high intensity type guys- The riches to be made from whaling led to the over harvesting of sperm whales. At the same time, you need to hire more people to sail, which dilutes the quality of the crews.- It also mean [...]

    13. Not only one of the best accounts of a spectacular whaling voyage in the Age of Sail, but one of the best sea books I have ever read. If you have never read a "sea book", whether factual or fiction, I would recommend this one as a first read. It not only tells the disasterous story of the whale ship, Sharon, and her tyrannical Captain Norris from 1841-45, but gives a panoramic view of the period and context in which the story is set. Woven throughout is also an account of how Herman Melville's o [...]

    14. A very interesting adventure story. As I recall the author didn't spend much time discussing WHY the story was covered up so much until you get to the footnotes. That would have been as interesting to know as the original story.A significant part of the book explores the parallels between the events on the "Sharon" and in Melville's "Moby Dick."I'm not familiar with the author but I'm getting the feeling there is a huge market for "junior" historians - people who dig up obscure old adventure sto [...]

    15. The main story here is good. What also fascinated me was that at every port sailors deserted whaleships and at the same ports there were other American, European, and Polynesian sailors ready to take those jobs on board. This means that in the early 1800s, there were hundreds of men spending days, weeks, or months as "beachcombers" -- or years going native -- on islands I've heard of, plus Pohnpie, Rotumah, Banaba, etc It's the coolest, most romantic life I can think of, except for the little de [...]

    16. I'm a sucker for a whaling disaster book. Here's the actual comment from my husband: "I picked up that book at the library. I think you've read it before. It's some kind of whaling thing and a mutiny? You've totally read it."This is my reality: I will read every damn book featuring whaling and mutinies.I wish so much that Ms. Druett didn't incorporate Herman Melville -- who wasn't on the Sharon -- so repeatedly and intensely. Maybe that was her decision or maybe it was a suggestion from someone [...]

    17. I listened to an audio version; I would like to check the print version to see if there's information about the discovery of the journals that Joan Druett used to uncover the story. A lot of the book is not about the Sharon or its voyage, and some might feel it gets off-track as a result. I found it a neat coincidence that I listened to the book on the exact date, some 169 years later, that the murder occurred. Still, on the whole, I'm glad I chose to listen to this book on this past weekend's l [...]

    18. I knew this book seemed familiar. Yes, I read it before but apparently forgot to add it to my list. Luckily, it's a pretty good book. This is a great account of the whale ship Sharon. A whaling expedition that went terribly wrong. A tyrant captain that in my opinion got what he deserved. I like that the book mostly concentrates on the actual voyage and doesn't spend to much time on the pre and post like some books do. If you enjoy maritime history this book is definitely something you want to ch [...]

    19. Fast-paced, easy to read just as quickly. Heavy-handed use of particular device (when he did 'this,' little did he know 'the grim that' which awaited). Ended abruptly after a brief tying up of ends synopsis. Still, handily fused telling the specific story of the Sharon with manageable, enriching details of life aboard a whaleboat, and nicely unspooled its reveal that very little was as it seemed.

    20. There was a bit of redundancy of facts and a little bit of a fascination with Melville, who had nothing to do with this horrific story, but the tale itself was amazing - and very sad. What I learned about 19th century whaling was substantial and I enjoyed the fact that the hero really did, essentially, live happily ever after. How often does that happen in real life? But it did and it made the ending even more satisfying as a result.

    21. A great story poorly told. Perhaps not poorly, but certainly not told especially well. Druett lays on the foreshadowing with a trowel, and then the book continues to rattle on for dozens of pages following the climax (one might even argue the completion) of its tale. She tries, but she lacks a historian's judgment for providing context.Which is too bad. When she's actually describing the action as it happened, the writing is clear and compelling.

    22. Engaging, well-researched book about life aboard a New England whaling ship that saw the murder of a crewman by a horrific captain followed by the murder of the captain a few months later. Interesting details on the islands visited by American whaling ships in the Pacific and the frequency with which sailors deserted their vessels to live on these remote islands or seek passage on a different ship.

    23. I've read most of Druett's books--this one is a bit more narrative in composition than her "women in the age of sail" books like Hen Frigates, which probably makes it a lot more appealing to a wider audience outside of maritime history buffs. Gruesome and disturbing, and i was ready to club the damn captain to death myself by the time he did meet his grisly end.

    24. A fascinating look at the ill-fated voyage of the whaleship Sharon. On the off chance that anyone has romanticized life on 19th century whaling ships, Druett makes clear the harsh conditions endured by all crewmembers--but especially those serving under sadistic captains, which weren't exactly few and far between, it seems. Clearly a time and place readers won't wish time travel to take them.

    25. By far the best of all the books by Ms. Druett that I've read--and they are all good. This tale of a ill-fated whaleship and how its sadistic Captain was murdered by three Pacific Islanders he had been tormenting brings alive the world of whaling and most interestingly gives us a lot of information about the various ports of call they stopped in in the South Pacific.

    26. I've read a lot of Joan Druett's work but this is by far her best - in terms of taking the non-fiction research she does so well and transforming it into a page turner. This book just excels in providing information, simplifying it, making us see the ship in detail, and feeling the pressures aboard ship. I couldn't put it down.

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