I love it--it's now a book. Why Read Moby-Dick?
Nathaniel Philbrick is a great writer in his own right. I really enjoyed his book about the whaleship Essex--it completely captivated me, and I usually don't like non-fiction at all.
The author of this article calls the book "a passionate and convincing text." There is no personal opinion on Moby Dick itself.
But check out this "argument." If I had a student write this, I would have the student express why the quote proves the point:
"but when he quotes Melville, the text soars and Melville’s prose becomes Philbrick’s best argument for reading the book: 'While gliding through these latter waters that one serene and moonlight night, when all the waves rolled by like scrolls of silver; and, by their soft, suffusing seethings, made what seemed a silvery silence, not a solitude. ... '"
If anyone is still awaiting the arrival of The Great American Novel(s), give it up. They have already been written. The first is “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and the second is “Moby-Dick, or, The Whale.”
I just taught Huck Finn and didn't have a great experience either. But Huck Finn has a narrative structure.