In the Wake of Madness by Joan Druett
The Murderous Voyage of the Whaleship Sharon

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After more 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.

About Joan Druett

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Joan Druett, an award-winning writer of nautical nonfiction, is the author of numerous works, including Hen Frigates and In the Wake of Madness. She lives in New Zealand. Visit her website at
Published January 4, 2004 by Algonquin Books. 305 pages
Genres: History, Professional & Technical, Biographies & Memoirs, War. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The Sharon, a whaler from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, set sail in the spring of 1841 with a crew of about 30 under the command of Captain Howes Norris, a man likable enough on shore who metamorphosed into a mean-spirited martinet once the Sharon was at sea.

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Publishers Weekly

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Nonfiction accounts about whaling tend to intone Melville's name like a mantra, and Druett's volume about the bedeviled 1841–1845 voyage of the Sharon is no exception.

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ForeWord Reviews

Now and then readers may wish that the author had chosen to incorporate more detail in her body text-for instance, a vivid account of the harpooner’s job, drawn from Melville, is consigned to the endnotes-but on the whole she stays close to her sources, who are apt to be terse in the manner of se...

Jun 15 2003 | Read Full Review of In the Wake of Madness: The M...

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