This book was "in fact, neither literal autobiography nor pure fiction. Melville drew his material from his experiences, from his imagination, and from a variety of travel books when the memory of his experiences were inadequate. The three-week stay on which This book is based takes place over the course of four months in the narrative. Melville drew extensively on contemporary accounts by Pacific explorers to add cultural detail to what might otherwise have been a straightforward story of escape, capture, and re-escape. Most American reviewers accepted the authenticity of the narrative, though it provoked disbelief among some British readers.