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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 (2035 )
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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
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    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
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 10-20-14
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 10-20-14 Member Since 2016

    My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.

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    "THE LARGEST TOOTHED WHALES IN EXISTENCE"

    I prefer Historical Fiction over History, but with Philbrick I make an exception. This is my fifth book by Philbrick and they all have been very readable and informative. This book would make a great companion to Moby Dick. NP always picks interesting topics. I started with Mayflower which gave me a complete new outlook on the history of New Amsterdam, I'm sorry I mean New York. My favorite is The Last Stand, which is about Custer.

    This is a history on Sperm Whaling and on Nantucket. Among other things I was surprised to find out that a lot of captains of whaling ships were in their mid twenties. Through years of tv watching, I figured them to be old white haired men. I believe that I felt more in the boat with the whalers in this book, then I did in Moby Dick and I really liked Moby Dick. I think NP does a great job of explaining just how dangerous this type of job was and how terrifying these huge beast could be. It becomes obvious that the main reason most whaling captains were young, was cause they did not live long enough to get old.

    One indirect sad truth that NP really does not talk about that much, was how many whales there were back in those days. Nantucket got into whaling, because of the of amount whales they could see from shore. In the beginning they could go out and catch one and still be insight of the island. Later they were traveling all the way to the pacific.

    If the subject interest you at all, you will enjoy this.

    Do not worry about FOSB, fear of Scott Brick, he does well in this. The production was a little weird. At times he sounds like he is talking through a cheerleaders megaphone. Sometimes the change from one paragraph to another is extreme and sounds like they squashed the recording to make the recording shorter, like some radio stations do to programs, so they can get in more commercials, but it is not bad enough to detract.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reader in Rochester Rochester, MN 09-26-12
    Reader in Rochester Rochester, MN 09-26-12 Member Since 2013
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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
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    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
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    Robert Levin 12-16-16 Member Since 2016
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    "grim but true tail"

    this audio book was so much better than the movie. showed the inaccuracies of the movie version to provide a good historical perspective.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    chris 12-03-16
    chris 12-03-16 Member Since 2016
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    "GREAT story to teach the history."

    narrator was just fine. GREAT story line telling the history of the ship that sink and the way the sailors had to survive. lots of historical reference material in the last hour of the audio.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    HIYBRID 11-28-16
    HIYBRID 11-28-16

    Cook, Steelworker, Sailor in Viet Nam. Retired after 4 decades as an RN. Share a birthday with Mark Twain and his love of "spinnin' a yarn"

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    "Fact not fiction (Like "Pi") of a true struggle"

    I ran away to sea as a kid from an industrial city to the merchant marine academy. Flunked out and have always maintained my desire for the emptiness of the ocean. There is something pure about it. The only teabag floating perilously in a sea of warm water. What will happen next? Well this is what happens next and it is fascinating. Yes Moby Dick is fantasy. This is the reality of life on the waves. Read this Damn it !!! murmurs of "yessir" reply.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Robert McGowan, Ph.D. Herriman, UT US 11-17-16
    Robert McGowan, Ph.D. Herriman, UT US 11-17-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Story vs Performance"

    The story is fascinating ! The performance by the reader was disappointing. I recommend that the curious seek out the film which is very well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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