Thomas Heffernan is a professor of English and current president of the Melville Society. He is the author of Stove by a Whale: Owen Chase and the Essex, which was both inspiration and source for Nathaniel Philbrick's best-selling In the Heart of the Sea.
In January 1824, more than a year after sailing, Captain Worth and the officers of Nantucket whaler The Globe were brutally murdered in an assault led by 21-year-old Boat Steerer Samuel Comstock. This bloody mutiny was the first stage of Comstock's fantastical plan to found his own pirate kingdom on a remote Pacific island. The surviving crew reached the island of Mili Atoll soon afterwards, and there Comstock's deranged dream quickly began to unravel. Factions developed; some of the men rejected Comstock's leadership and they managed to retake the ship, cutting anchor and making out to sea in the dead of night, eventually informing the navy of the mutiny. All but two of those left on the island were killed by the natives and the survivors were imprisoned separately for two years. Heffernan provides a vivid depiction of the Globe mutiny itself and the events behind it, catching well the feel of bustling Nantucket and that of daily life aboard a 19th-century ship. Most interesting of all is Samuel Comstock himself, a brooding, erratic man who during his first voyage, aboard the Foster, got involved with a fierce fight between two infamous prostitutes and an unsuccessful attempt to break into a Chilean gaol. Anyone who has ever enjoyed the likes of Treasure Island or Moby Dick should relish this enthralling tale. (Kirkus UK)