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In the opening pages of Moby Dick, Herman Melville called New Bedford, Massachusetts, “the dearest place to live in, in all of New England.” But the old fishing port and manufacturing center—once one of the richest cities in New England—has withered in the modern economy. Its once-prosperous fishermen now struggle with government regulations and fished-out seas, while its empty factories now offer more work to the Fire Department than anyone else.
In Down at the Docks, Rory Nugent tells the “riches to rags” story of this iconic American town through beautifully told and unsentimental portraits of its residents. Their lives inform a eulogy to the distinctive ideas, traditions, and culture that is about to disappear from the waterfront.
Good non-fiction account of the rise and demise of an industrial Massachusetts fishing town.read more
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Instead of exploring exotic locales such as India and the Congo, as he did in his previous books (Search for the Pink-Headed Duck; Drums Along the Congo), Nugent stays close to home for a portrait of the fishing port town of New Bedford, Mass., where he lived for 17 years. With wry humor and empathy (it helps that he is a mariner himself), Nugent deftly tells the tale of a once bustling and vibrant community-the pre-eminent spot for fishing and whaling-and its decline as its fiercely independent inhabitants grapple for relevance in an increasingly globalized world. The book at first reads like a series of colorful character sketches: a junkie conman who turned to fishing after fighting in Vietnam; a jinxed fisherman whose presence on a boat indicates death to all the passengers save himself; the secretary to a secret lesbian fishing society. But the book reveals something larger as Nugent seamlessly weaves in the history of the town, its industry, drug-smuggling trade and flirtations with radical politics. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved