More about Nantucket and the Gilbreths, this remembers island history as the author recalls and retells many a story, some of them marking all the way back to the days of Indian settlement. Mostly though, they are what the title indicates- tales of whaling ships, the men who sailed them and the women who stayed at home. By way of introduction to each, Gilbreth tells a family anecdote which in turn reminds him of the story at hand- of Nantucket whaling's contribution to the first charting of ways and of linking West to East, of the sense of propriety that required bonnets for wives in bed, in short, of a ""bible and harpoon"" culture. Though told in a personalized such incidents as an encounter between South Sea belles and prim sea captains, the mutiny of Bloody Sam of the Globe, the remarks called forth when 350 pound Deborah Chase walked past Nantucket's few grog shops, and the other women who took on mens' chores in their husbands' absences and brooked no nonsense from returning spouses- have a quality that characterizes a fierce yet genteel period. Good reading that has its reference value too.