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In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex | [Nathaniel Philbrick]

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

The ordeal of the whaleship Essex was an event as mythic in the 19th century as the sinking of the Titanic was in the 20th. 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, disease, and ultimately turning to drastic measures in the fight for survival.
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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 19th century as the sinking of the Titanic was in the 20th. 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, 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 (619 )
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4.2 (262 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Charles LYNDON STATION, WISCONSIN, United States 11-18-12
    Charles LYNDON STATION, WISCONSIN, United States 11-18-12 Listener Since 2009
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    "In the Heart of the Dea."

    I was hoping for more out of this Book but it just wasn't there. It is an OK Book. I guess you just have to take a chance at it, you might like it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gretchen Atlanta, GA, United States 10-15-12
    Gretchen Atlanta, GA, United States 10-15-12 Member Since 2007
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    "An excellent read!"

    After reading Philbrick's "Mayflower", another well researched historical account, I decided to dive into another one of his books. Yes... it is little slow in the early parts, but I thought the background was necessary to frame the story. It soon turned into something I couldn't put down. There's tons of action in this historical account. The narration is very good. However, the splicing leaves something to be desired. It was too choppy and disrupted the flow of the book. Still, I highly recommend it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean DAYTON, KY, United States 08-16-12
    Sean DAYTON, KY, United States 08-16-12 Member Since 2006
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    "Good story except for some unnecessary digressions"
    What did you like best about In the Heart of the Sea? What did you like least?

    This story has many interesting points that are worth considering even at this late date, and I think the author does this quite well. Yet, I do take exception with at least a couple of comments he made. First, the mention of the ignorance of the sailors about the whale does not seem to jive with what Herman Melville wrote in Moby Dick. Although it was their business to carve up whales and they went about it in a business like manner, surely they had some understanding of the anatomy of the whale including the size of his reproductive organs. Really, the mentioning of this organ and its size by the author is just typical of our sex crazed times. Totally out of place and unnecessary. Second, the author goes to some length to explain how painful it is to suffer dehydration and starvation. But, as he noted, as one approaches the end, all the pain starts to go away. Then, amazingly, he comments how the various supporters of euthanasia in America consider this a painless way to die. Did I miss something?! Yes, it is not very painful at the end but what about all the suffering involved to get to that point? It seems clear to me that such digressions are politically motivated and have no place in a work like this.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Seabrook, TX, United States 06-16-12
    David Seabrook, TX, United States 06-16-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Better than Melville"

    This is a well written story of a famous and particular whaling voyage, one that was famous in it's time and was likely the inspiration for Melville's "Moby Dick". Until recently the account that dominated knowledge of the voyage was written by the first mate Owen Chase. But an account written by the cabin boy, Thomas Nickerson, surfaced a few years back; it provides more and different reports that cleared up many questions.

    Nathaniel Philbrick interleaves the various accounts of the Essex, along with other extensively research descriptions of Nantucket, the Quakers, and the whaling industry. I titled this review "Better than Melville" because Moby Dick tries to do something similar, but Philbrick has produced a more compelling narrative.

    The narration was excellent.

    The only negative was that some chapters seemed to start a sentence or two into the chapter; some kind of technical glitch. A bit frustrating, but don't let it stop you from listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Washington, UT, United States 04-09-12
    Paul Washington, UT, United States 04-09-12 Member Since 2006
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    "Excellent book"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Would definitely recommend to those who enjoy historical fiction or stories of survival.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I learned a lot from this book and I felt as if I where on the ships myself. Other books that I enjoyed that are similar are


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    marvin tucker, GA, United States 02-02-12
    marvin tucker, GA, United States 02-02-12 Member Since 2010
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    "One of the best true stories not many are aware of"
    What made the experience of listening to In the Heart of the Sea the most enjoyable?

    It made me feel like i was actually there.


    What did you like best about this story?

    the descriptions of life on a whaler in the 1800s..the island


    Which character – as performed by Scott Brick – was your favorite?

    owen chase


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    a fight for survival thousands of miles from land in the 1800s


    Any additional comments?

    This absoutely should be made into a film...a great story that more people should be made aware of. Excellent writing and fact gathering by NP and dead on narration by brick. i wish it had gone on longer....a

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Denver, CO, United States 01-02-12
    Chris Denver, CO, United States 01-02-12 Member Since 2011
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    "The "Into Thin Air" of the sea"
    If you could sum up In the Heart of the Sea in three words, what would they be?

    A great adventure story for those who know and are new to the dangers of the sea!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elicia St. Charles, MO, United States 11-07-11
    Elicia St. Charles, MO, United States 11-07-11 Member Since 2009
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    Story
    "What is it like to become lost at sea?"

    Author Nathaniel Philbrick did his homework giving a well rounded view of the times and culture surrounding the whaling business and Nantucket Island in particular. The Captain and First Mate initially appear very two dimensional. As the story progresses the author brings them to life by comparing and contrasting their historical journals with those of their shipmates and other historical data. I felt like I was looking through a time portal viewing clips of events. The telling is more high tragedy than high adventure. This did not make the book less interesting, but more so. Nathaniel did a phenomenal job reviewing the ethics of survival and survivor's guilt.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lindsey WICHITA, KS, United States 09-06-11
    Lindsey WICHITA, KS, United States 09-06-11 Member Since 2011

    I love reading a variety of genres and authors - audiobooks are my new best friend as I knit or travel.

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    "Excellent writing and performance"

    Not only is this a wonderfully written and engaging account of the last voyage of the Essex, it is also an excellent resource for those readers who would like to know more about the whaling industry in the nineteenth century. I started to read _Moby Dick_ several months ago and put it aside for a little while. In the interim, I heard about this book and decided to listen to it on a recent trip. WOW. The story of the Essex's crew is interesting and told without sentimentality or sensationalism, and Philbrick easily incorporates clear explanations of every step in the process of a whaling voyage, from recruiting a crew to the results of a successful - or unsuccessful - trip. I'll be picking up _Moby Dick_ again soon, and will happily read it with a much better understanding of whaling as it existed in Melville's time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Amanda Montgomery, IL, United States 08-26-11
    Amanda Montgomery, IL, United States 08-26-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Good read if you enjoyed Endurance"

    Endurance was an unbelievable adventure story with an equally unbelievable ending...this story spends a little more time documenting the history and is a bit more of a tragedy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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