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)
I first thought that this would be a story of man versus whale. After all, it was touted as the inspiration of Moby Dick. Instead, I was treated to a story of human survival. The crew of the Essex went through an experience far worse than the characters in "Alive!" In this tale, they had to struggle with hunger as well as dehydration. It's a miracle that they even survived at all!
Once I started listening I could not stop. The author goes into great detail. He did his research. I also enjoyed the further research he added into the book after the epilogue.
This book is an excellent account of a true historical event of unspeakable suffering and tragedy. I very much enjoyed the retelling of this old story from the perspective of one of the survivors. However, when the survivors are rescued and finally brought back to civilization to be reunited with their homes and families, the book still goes on for another three hours! All the subsequent historical footnotes and accounts of modern-day Nantucket could be nothing but a letdown after such an epic story. I would've given this book a five star review if the author had just known when to say "the end"
This is the rare book that once starred cannot be put down. When I finished I felt like I had lost a member of my family. I hope the upcoming movie will be half as good.
I was expecting book to be simply about the Essex story but it also encompassed a great deal of the history of whaling, the culture and history of Nantucket Island, and touched on other shipping history. I'm a history buff so I enjoyed the additional materials. But someone looking to purchase a book only about the story (especially if in prep to see the movie) may not appreciate all the additional background information.
Big Giant Whale
Several Big Moments
OK but a bit dry and rigid.
Many moments moved me
The history recounted increases appreciation for Moby Dick, the fiction it inspired, but it also echoes the tragedy of the Titanic and the Life of Pi.
The story starts as a venture for bountiful profits, but tacks between examples of egregious waste, penny wise economy, and dire rationing.
Poetry grows on this story like gooseneck barnacles on a whaler's hull. It's hard to think of the burning island -- the point where a whaler's joke wipes out entire species -- as unrelated to the later whale attack and sequence of deadly setbacks; instead, the blazing oasis feels like the final provocation that looses the thunder of a vindictive Providence.
One of my favorites. And now I will re-read Moby Dick, which is one of the greatest novels ever.
Scott Brick was an excellent reader. He isn't one of those readers who over-dramatize and put too much expression in the reading. He is clear and appealing.
What an amazing story. And there is a wealth of information about whaling and ships and Nantucket and more, that is integrated into the story so that our historical understanding is much enriched by the author's thorough research.
Yes to some extent, I felt "The Survivors of the Chancellor" by Jules Vern was better and more in tune with in some way the agony and despair and plight even though the Essex survivors endured similar circumstances - as it was more detached and focused on facts albeit up to par with Philbrick's deep research of the material.
Yes, historical fact recreated continues to make me appreciate the ease of today's life in first world countries - while still feeling great disdain for TV like "Housewives of Orange County" or "Jerry Springer" or "Housewives of Atlanta" and "Judge Judy" - which I hope folks realize does not reflect the majority of America.
He is a great reader and can not be faulted, However "Atlantic" written and read by Simon Winchester wins out as he would given he has a true depth to his understanding of the material - I would recommend his other books as well "Crack in the Edge of the World"(SW), "Krakatoa" (SW) as well (these historical novels are also well researched and have a closer feel to "Sea of Glory" (NP).
Yes, to cherish the bounty we have in every day life more. And to still understand that some parts of the world have horrible governments, leadership, and poor outcomes for their citizens. However, people that want to can change their own circumstances - when they realize the change must come within and when they start faulting external causes of their problems.
These books will create a strong appreciation for things that most take for granted.
I live in Charlottesville, Virginia, not Arlington.
Telling in suspenseful and historic detail. A carefully-crafted account of a whaleship voyage from Nantucket.
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