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.
Travel writer Rory Nugent, who has written memorable memoirs about his experiences in Africa and India, proves that he can be just as insightful and entertaining at home as he is abroad. Nugent mournfully laments the steady decline of the fishing industry in New Bedford, Massachusetts, his home for almost 20 years. In the middle of the 19th century, during the height of the whaling industry, New Bedford was the most thriving port on the planet. Today, new technology, an immigration influx, and industrial takeovers in the fishing industry have forced many former fishers to become land lovers. Although the book is structured as a series of character studies, depicting the outrageous lives of fisher-folk such as Sword, a Vietnam vet whose arms are a densely-covered canvas of tattoos and Hake, a jinxed sailor who has shipwrecked several times, the greater story is of the town itself, which is slowly being sucked under like a sinking ship.
- Technology, Social Science
- Fisheries + Aquaculture, Anthropology / Cultural
- February 9, 2010
- February 9, 2010
- Rory Nugent