Odessa: Odes. obl. izd-vo, 1952. Item #1152
320 pp.: ill. 20.5x13.3cm. In original publisher’s illustrated cardboards. Stamp of the library of the whaling ship Slava (the library was located at the vessel and was intended for Soviet whalers exclusively) and inventory number on the title-page, p.17, and p. 320. Spine and edges rubbed. Otherwise in a very good condition.
Scarce. First edition.
Unknown episodes from the life of the Soviet whale hunters.
The roots of commercial whaling in Russia go back to the mid-19th century, when companies based in Finland (then part of Imperial Russia) sent out vessels to the Pacific Ocean. Yet, it was not until after the end of World War II, with the need for a stronger economy and rapid industrialization of the country, that the Soviet whaling became a truly global industry.
In the mid-1940s, the Soviets were given a former German factory ship Wikinger (later Slava) as a prize of war. Slava went on to become the first Soviet factory ship to whale in the Antarctic (1946-1947), killing 384 whales. In the next season, 1947-1948, a new captain, Alexei Solyanik, was hired to command the fleet, and for the next 18 seasons he would lead Slava, becoming the most successful whaling captain in Soviet history. Slava, the second oldest in the Soviet fleet, was removed from the Antarctic after the 1965-1966 whaling season and taken to the North Pacific, where she worked for four seasons until her retirement in 1969.
Published in 1952, the edition includes rare first-hand accounts of the crew of the legendary Soviet factory ship Slava. The book houses 16 stories written by the authors varying from the captain of the ship Alexei Solyanik, captain-harpooner A. Purgin, and chief of the flensing factory P. Kotov to head of radio communications of the flotilla K. Demishev and waitress at Slava N. Chaykovskaya. Each article elucidates peculiarities of the journey of the factory ship to Antarctica and shows unknown episodes from the life of Soviet whale hunters from different perspectives. While some narrators recollect official aspects of the adventure (a competition between Soviet and Norvegian crew members or weather complications and scientific researches conducted at the place), others unveil such interesting details as the tradition of Neptune ceremony while crossing the Ecuador, whalers’ tearful reactions on the radio messages from their relatives, boxing championships, and how the travellers used to entertain themselves with reading biographies of Lenin and Stalin during their spare time. The text is abundant with the comparisons between Soviet and foreign whalers (ex: Newspaper owners would pay dearly for pictures that would testify that Russian whalers are just as dirty, just as overgrown and lost their human appearance as the unrestrained drunken crews of foreign fleets) and is characterized by sceptical tone towards ‘others’ (We don’t like talking to foreign reporters because we know that any response we make will be distorted). One of the articles provides unique information on the women’s experience among the whalers.
Overall, the edition provides vivid insights into the unknown episodes from the life of Soviet whale hunters.
The edition features multiple black-and-white illustrations showing the adventures of Soviet whalers.
No copies found in Worldcat.