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Away Off Shore: Nantucket Island and Its People, 1602-1890
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Away Off Shore: Nantucket Island and Its People, 1602-1890

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  178 ratings  ·  25 reviews
History of Nantucket Island focuses on the real people (great and obscure, famous and infamous) behind one of America’s most extraordinary success stories: Nantucket, the tiny island that became the whaling capital of the world.
ebook, 352 pages
Published April 1st 2011 by Penguin Books (first published December 1993)
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I did not know all that much about Nantucket before starting this book, and while I've been to Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, I've never visited the island "away off shore." I was curious, however, because I'm a descendant of one of its earliest white founder proprietors, Tristram Coffin, who purchased the island (with others) in 1659. This isn't saying all that much: there may well be a million of us at this point. Indeed, even in his lifetime he was called the "grandfather of us all."

The boo
Peggie Ross
I really enjoyed this book. Being a series of stories about individual people, it is one which is easy to pick up and read in short spurts. Yet, that said, there is also the cohesion of being chronological as well as the fact that the small population meant that families track through the entire book. I look forward to reading more books by this author.
I read this book after finishing Moby-Dick. This work included short biographies about leading figures in 18th and 19th century Nantucket. One figure who stood out to me was Peleg Folger, a whaleman who studied science and wrote poetry while on a whaling ship. Melville must have fashioned the character of Ishmael after this historical figure. Although Nathaniel Philbrick is a journalist, the book isn't written in an overly-sensationalist way. Away Off Shore is an easy but informative introductio ...more
Julia Good-Reads
I really enjoyed the Whaleship Essex and found it both gripping and informative. I decided to read this Away Off Shore book before my first visit to Nantucket to further my appreciate and knowledge of the history of the area, but found it rather boring and quit before I was more than 1/3 of the way through.
Kay Robart
Philbrick relates the history of the island largely by focusing on a few colorful individuals and families, and principally on two antagonistic factions. Although that strategy makes the book interesting, I’m not sure it provides a true reflection of the island through time.

I felt that the book makes assumptions about the readers’ knowledge of Nantucket, as if it was written for the inhabitants or at least those who are frequent visitors. He often makes comments like "the house was located where
I looooove Nathaniel Philbrick. This book gave an excellent look into the history of Nantucket, an island that went from Revolutionary isolation, to worldwide fame, to becoming a tourist hotspot beginning in the late 19th century. Philbrick gives a fascinating look into the lives of some of Nantucket's most notable heroes and villains, exciting whaling voyages, the unique culture that fostered the autonomy of such memorable women as astronomer Maria Mitchell, and more. Highly recommended for any ...more
Melanie Guerra
Another great read by Nathaniel Philbrick. A terrific look at the history of a tiny island that once was mighty. As always, Philbrick is scholarly but not tedious, thorough but not dull. He does the legacy of the once powerful Nantucket whalers incredible justice in the telling of their story, and how it came to be. He adds much-overlooked truth to the well-known stories of early settlers and their relationships with Native Americans, the abolitionist movement, the Quakers and the American Revol ...more
Betsy Kalman
Excellent Nantucket history.

A whaling history of Nantucket. I bought this book while visiting the island to get some perspective on what it was before it became a tourist destination for the very rich. The history of the (amazingly profit focused) Quakers and the history of strong women (who ran the island while the men were at sea) is interesting. The writing in the book is simple and eloquent and the chapters are a series of snapshots in a 300 year history.
It was a fairly slow read, but it was engaging and interesting enough that I didn't lose interest. I'm glad to know a deeper history of the island I love! I don't know if you'd enjoy it if you weren't familiar with Nantucket.
An interesting and accssible history (there are many notes and references but they do not intrude on the narrative journey). Nathaniel Philbrick describes Nantucket from the days of the first English settlers and their interaction with the Native Americans to its development as the first American seaside resort, showing that there is more to the history of Nantucket than whales!
Great overview of the island's history, especially its rise and fall as a whaling port. Not sure how relevant, or easy to follow, it'd be for folks who've never been to Nantucket (disclaimer: I've spent a great deal of time there). So, particularly recommended for those with a strong interest in colonial-era New England (or at least pre-Civil War), or the whaling industry.
This was great to read while I've been here in Nantucket on vacation, but I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it as much without the context. It really added something to my experience, though, and I'd recommend it to people who are traveling to Nantucket or who are into sailing/the history of whaling.
I loved it. I can't imagine too many people are so interested in the early history of Nantucket, but since the book details the arrival of Thomas Macy (my 9th great grandfather) and various Coffins, Starbucks, Gardeners, through to my 5th great grandparents, I found it fascinating.
Skimmed through this while we were in Nantucket, and enjoyed learning more about the history of the island. I would have appreciated hearing more stories about daily life on Nantucket and the character of the people here - but the emphasis of the book seemed to be on the whaling voyages.
Great book for fans of Nantucket! It profiles different prominent citizens from all walks of life. Philbrick is a great writer who really turns each story into a narrative both about the island and its inhabitants. I am hoping to read some of his other books soon.
This is a great synopsis of the history of Nantucket. I found it quick enjoyable, but I wonder if it's due to my love of his subject. Without a close personal connection to the island, I'm not sure if a reader would find it worthwhile.
A good read on a subject that wouldn't necessarily be of general interest. From the forward it would seem that this book is the one that started Nathaniel Philbrick on his course of writing popular history, and that's a very good thing.
Avis Black
Definitely a local history, and as such its appeal is essentially limited. I have to admit my main interest in this book stems from the fact that he's writing about my ancestors and a bunch of other collateral relatives.
A very interesting book by the author of Mayflower. Tells of the people and whaling on Nantucket Island and the settling and Revolutionary War connection.
Nathan Caress
Loosely related and easily digestible, this book of short histories of Nantucket people epitomizes easy - yet not insubstantial - summer/beach reading.
A nice history of Nantucket. Sags a bit in the middle, but the entire book is buoyed by Nathaniel Philbrick's lyric writing style.
Diem Shepard
Jun 10, 2015 Diem Shepard is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I lost this book before I could finish it. I lost it on Nantucket, appropriately enough. :(
a little too much detail but not bad
I wish it was longer!
Melissa marked it as to-read
Jun 28, 2015
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Philbrick was Brown’s first Intercollegiate All-American sailor in 1978; that year he won the Sunfish North Americans in Barrington, RI; today he and his wife Melissa sail their Beetle Cat Clio and their Tiffany Jane 34 Marie-J in the waters surrounding Nantucket Island.

After grad school, Philbrick worked for four years at Sailing World magazine; was a freelancer for a number of years, during whic
More about Nathaniel Philbrick...
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery, the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842

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