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
"A fascinating tale, well told." (Booklist)
"[Told] with verve and authenticity...a classic tale of the sea." (San Francisco Chronicle)
Non fiction sea yarn enthusiasts would probably enjoy this retelling of the history that inspired Moby Dick. I prefer the fiction with all its unabridged wordiness.
Despite its disaster-filled history, I felt every interminable minute of being lost at sea. Only speeding the narration allowed me to struggle to the end.
Well crafted tale, extensively researched. He provides enough background on Nantucket history, whaling, 19th century ships, the effects of dehydration and starvation, and so forth to provide perspective on the trials of the castaways without getting too vivid. A good telling of a compelling tale. I should note that I picked this up on a "Daily Deal" to fill in between credits and I thought it was well worth the (deeply discounted) price.
By far the description of how a whale gets rendered into whale oil. It was to say the least graphic and memorable. The conditions under which these men worked and the process for stripping a whale of its blubber and reducing it to barrels of oil was unbelievably disgusting.
The story just sort of progressed without much hyperbole or flowery description - just matter-of-fact. It seemed appropriate for the subject matter. The narrator did a good job of maintaining an "even keel" (sorry) throughout.
I think when the captain was faced with killing and eating a close relative in order for the rest of the survivors to stay alive, that was pretty poignant.
The last 17 or so "chapters" were a recitation of research notes. I have never had an audiobook that did this, and I quickly skipped over them to the end. Not really annoying, just not terribly interesting.
This is an interesting tale of the true story that inspired Moby Dick. A fascinating glimpse into the whaling culture of 19th century Nantucket, and a harrowing naval saga of survival. Narration was solid.
My only criticism is that at least 90 minutes at the end are lost (to me) in citations. If I wanted to pursue original source and reference material, it is doubtful I'd do so from an audiobook. Be aware of this if you purchase it.
The story itself is a tale of the impossible. It's incredibly grim, depressing, heroic, and pathetic. Very descriptive and horrific. Yet, the narrator speaks with an upbeat, cordial tone throughout while describing people literally starving to death and resorting to cannibalism in order to live like he's talking about an adventure story on an exotic island. His voice doesn't adequately capture the desperate nature of the event. The real story is only a small portion of the book. The first part is a detailed manual on how to be a whaler, then the last 3+ hours is the epilogue, aftermath, and life as a whaler in Nantucket. The ordeal is only about 2 hours of the whole book. Pretty disappointed. Watch the movie instead of this audiobook.
The story finished with about 3 hours left and I got bored with the epilogues, afterwords, etc. I finally gave up with about 1 hr 48 minutes left. The reader was ok, but not great.
At times I was pretty into this book, but before you buy it, just know the story is really about 5 hours. After 5 hours the story of the Essex is done, people who died are dead and people that survived are still living. Then there are three hours left over to talk what happened to the survivors..... You could have done that in 30 min tops. Buy it but don't feel bad to end it after 5 hours.
Great story of some tough dudes. Shows the lengths people will go to survive and provide for their families.
What an amazing account of the whalers of the Essex! I almost felt like I was there, but am most grateful I wasn't! Not only did I feel I enter erred that period of history, I came to really care about these men and their incredible struggle.....and also had sympathy for whales. The incredible perseverance and indomitable will so often shown was awe-inspiring even while the grim, feral nature this also took was appalling. It raises interesting moral questions, too.
The narrator was quite good, which is a necessity because even an excellent audiobook on a variety of levels will be sunk by an annoying narrator..and probably faster than the Essex was.
As an aside, Philbrick's Mayflower was equally excellent, if not a bit better.
Wonderful narration. Amazing story. Highly recommended. I vote: listen to this after reading Moby Dick, since most of the action takes place after the whale attack - the place where Moby Dick ends- this book is a sort of coda to that story. High marks all around. Can't wait to see the Ron Howard movie. (Although, I'd wager he doesn't quite go into all the gory detail. Note: don't listen to parts of this audiobook while eating anything but vegan food.)
The audiobook was supposed to be over 10 hours. Instead it was barely 8, and full of audio glitches, with strange voice and pacing issues, chapters that abruptly cut off mid-narrative (and sometimes mid-sentence), and missing material. Heck, the final word of the narrator's "This has been a [X Publisher] Audio production" is cut off half-way through. A real shame, since the book itself is really gripping! Or at least, what i heard of it was...
...Character? They really need to stop auto-generating these questions.
...This was clearly a "form" question, since this question has nothing to do with the book.
I would have restored the 2 hours apparently cut haphazardly out of this glitch-filled version of the audiobook.
I expect better from Audible.com.
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