Herman Melville is considered one of America's greatest authors. His novel Moby Dick is read by virtually every American student, although ironically it was the least well-accepted of his works at the time of its publication. Despite the uniqueness of his talent, Melville struggled with financial problems his entire life and never received the recognition and wealth due him during his lifetime. Born into affluence, at the age of eleven Melville lost his father and thus the family income. for the next decade, he tried a number of jobs, beginning as a cabin boy on a merchant ship. He then signed onto a whaling ship bound for the Pacific, an experience that provided the background for many of his later works. Author Milton Meltzer skillfully follows his subject through a series of extraordinary adventures, showing the intricate interweaving of real-life experience into Melville's novels and short stories.