Burns brought to the task a sound knowledge of actual whaling, much curious learning in the literature of the subject, and, above all, an imagination which worked with great power upon the facts of his own experience.


A year with a whaler    New York, 1500 Books, 2007   Walter Noble Burns Whaling Softcover. Originally published – New York, Outing publishing co., 1913.  250 p. front., plates. 22 cm. Clean, tight and strong binding. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG

Responding to a newspaper ad in 1890, Walter Noble Burns shipped out from San Francisco on a whaling expedition aboard the bark Alexander to the Chukchi and Bering Seas. The freshness and excitement of the experience, so keenly recorded in his memoir, is soon balanced by his growing experience in the ways of whalers. As Burns learns more about the men he’s shipped with, he also discovers the mammals that he and his fellow sailors hunt – both for income, and for sport. The power, intelligence and, more than all, courage of these hunted animals is clearly described by this young eyewitness. None prove to be easy prey, and whether in success or failure, their personalities come through as vividly as those of the men who hunt them.

The sea and its moods are as much a character in this memoir as the author’s hodgepodge of shipmates. A stream of anecdotes, character sketches, and settings make this story as real as if the author was here to share it today. A Year with a Whaler is a year among men, animals and the sea itself, as seen through the eyes of an innocent who went to sea to find the man he was to become.

Walter Noble Burns was born in 1872. After responding to a help wanted ad he shipped out on the whaling bark Alexander in 1890 and wrote this memoir in 1913.

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