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In the Heart of the Sea Audiobook

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

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Publisher's Summary

National Book Award, Nonfiction, 2000

The ordeal of the whaleship Essex was an event as mythic in the nineteenth century as the sinking of the Titanic was in the twentieth. In 1819 the Essex left Nantucket for the South Pacific with 20 crew members aboard. In the middle of the South Pacific, the ship was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale. The crew drifted for more than 90 days in three tiny whaleboats, succumbing to weather, hunger, and disease and ultimately turning to drastic measures in the fight for survival.

Nathaniel Philbrick uses little-known documents, including a long-lost account written by the ship's cabin boy, and penetrating details about whaling and the Nantucket community to reveal the chilling events surrounding this epic maritime disaster. An intense and mesmerizing read, In the Heart of the Sea is a monumental work of history forever placing the Essex tragedy in the American historical canon.

©2000 Nathaniel Philbrick; (P)2000 Penguin Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

  • Alex Award Winner, 2001

"A fascinating tale, well told." (Booklist)
"[Told] with verve and authenticity...a classic tale of the sea." (San Francisco Chronicle)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (1879 )
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  •  
    Matt OVERLAND PARK, KS, United States 04-29-12
    Matt OVERLAND PARK, KS, United States 04-29-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Awesome Book….reads like a novel"

    Fascinating book on many levels. 19th century sailing, whaling, survival, endurance, etc….. I loved it. And like always, Scott Brick is the master of narration. If I were a history teacher this book would be required reading! Five big stars on this one!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra Brentwood, CA, USA 03-09-07
    Sandra Brentwood, CA, USA 03-09-07 Member Since 2012
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    "Riveting............."

    This was an amazing "listen". So hard to even imagine in one's wildest dreams what these men and boys endured. The life lasting effect must have been immense - a story no author could pen without the facts to guide him. I am a history lover but would recommend this book to all those who are not as well as those who are. I thoroughly enjoyed "The Mayflower" but was awestruck by this story.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reader in Rochester Rochester, MN 09-26-12
    Reader in Rochester Rochester, MN 09-26-12 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting, but dry"
    What did you like best about In the Heart of the Sea? What did you like least?

    The facts were obviously researched. However, sometimes the story became a bit dry when the background facts were outlined.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The trials the men went through to survive their time at sea were fascinating. The details of life on Nantucket and the Quaker church were quite boring.


    Do you think In the Heart of the Sea needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Definitely not. This is a historical book. Any further books based off of it would be pure fiction.


    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Magikarp Salad 04-27-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Why didn't I know this story?!"

    I'll admit, I'd never have picked this up without someone repeatedly prodding me to do so...but I'm really glad I did. I mostly read/listen to sci-fi/fantasy, so I'm skeptical about anything non-fiction...if I wanted non-fiction I'd watch the flippin' news (is about how my poor attitude would respond...) - but this story is good...hard to put the feeling into words - kind of intriguing and horrifying...on many levels. Not just the...main tragedy part - but what makes someone want to do this...the normal things they do...that they don't consider tragedies...from the catching and processing of whales, to the stuff that happens on the islands (like the Galapagos)...my god...

    If you already know the story of the Essex, there probably isn't a ton of new info - but still worth the listen. If you don't know the story that was part of Melville's inspiration for Moby Dick, you should probably pick this one up!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruce Wayne Minneapolis, MN United States 07-28-05
    Bruce Wayne Minneapolis, MN United States 07-28-05 Member Since 2005
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    "Gripping"

    Great descriptions of whaling and of the hardships faced by the crew of the Essex.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    christy Plano, TX, United States 09-07-16
    christy Plano, TX, United States 09-07-16 Member Since 2011
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    "I was concerned about the whales and then...."

    No one can endorse whaling, but since this was a different era, I decided to give this book a try. I'm glad I did. While whaling is part of the story, it is small part. The other trials and tribulations were so mind-boggling that it feels like a footnote. Great read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neil San Francisco, CA, United States 09-01-16
    Neil San Francisco, CA, United States 09-01-16
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    "A Legendary Tail"

    This is my second Philbrick book and he is true to form. The book takes you from Nantucket to the open Pacific to where a bull whale defended his pod. I was rooting for the whale, and then rooting for the men to survive. It is a classic movie story with a novice captain and experience first officer fighting for the control of the ship from the beginning. If you like sea adventures then this is for you. I read Alive about a more modern disaster where cannibalism took place. Philbrick doesn't hold back on the cannibalism. That part was hard for me to stomach. But again only a small percentage of people are stuck in that situation.
    Highly recommend. This book reads fast.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Linda Equinozzi 08-31-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Awesome!"

    Best book I have listened to this year! If you like Eric Larsons' books you will love this

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darryl 08-16-16
    Darryl 08-16-16 Member Since 2008
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    "Amazing"

    This is an incredible true story which has elements that influenced Herman Melville as I'm sure everyone's aware now. But if you've only seen the abomination of a film you were cheated out of an incredible and at times gut wrenching survival story. I looked forward to the film so much for over a year when I heard about it, but I was so disgusted by what they did to this I nearly walked out, but didn't cause a friend was with me, to whom I had to explain all the missteps and flat out lies. Non-fiction at its best.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Robert Chicago, IL, United States 08-11-16
    Robert Chicago, IL, United States 08-11-16
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    "Great read - watch out for the 1.5hrs of footnotes"

    This book is a wonderful mix of great story telling and interesting history. In addition to the story of the boat and the sailors there is a full background of the country, the whaling industry, sailing, biology, culture, and many other aspects spread throughout.

    This book is well researched, however there should be a warning attached that the last 1.5hrs of the listen are the footnotes. May be interesting to some, but greatly overstates the actual length of the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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