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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 (1888 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Rioux Clan 07-25-15
    Rioux Clan 07-25-15 Member Since 2008
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    "Great book!"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt San Francisco, CA 06-03-15
    Matt San Francisco, CA 06-03-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Captivating Whale of a Story"

    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.)

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    The Ineffable Pangolin The Empire State 03-24-15
    The Ineffable Pangolin The Empire State 03-24-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Incomplete Audiobook"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    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...


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    ...Character? They really need to stop auto-generating these questions.


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

    ...This was clearly a "form" question, since this question has nothing to do with the book.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from In the Heart of the Sea?

    I would have restored the 2 hours apparently cut haphazardly out of this glitch-filled version of the audiobook.


    Any additional comments?

    I expect better from Audible.com.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taylor J Weigand 03-15-15 Member Since 2008
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    "Good story, inconsistent narration"

    Once the story got going, it was gripping.

    The narration sounded like it was done in several studios with completely different setups, and the narrator sounded like he was telling the story to children.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike R. 03-05-15
    Mike R. 03-05-15
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    "Fascinating"

    Great story! Great narration! It provides a thorough education of the whaling industry in New England in the first half of the nineteenth century. My only complaint is that throughout the recording, the volume would spike as each new section began.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave Tumwater, WA, United States 02-26-15
    Dave Tumwater, WA, United States 02-26-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Essex Disaster Inspires Melville!"
    If you could sum up In the Heart of the Sea in three words, what would they be?

    Inspiring Survival Story


    What was one of the most memorable moments of In the Heart of the Sea?

    Drawing lots while starving at sea to see who would sacrifice his life so the rest of the crew could live.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When the whaling ship was rammed by a pissed off whale and eventually sank.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    The actual story was spellbinding, but the last hour and a half consisted of author footnotes on his research. Tedious.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DEMC1221 02-23-15
    DEMC1221 02-23-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Glitchy recording"

    The book was great but the recording was poor. Several times the edits made it sound like the beginning of a paragraph was recorded in one place and the end of it recorded in another. Very distracting. And the playback jumped a few times.

    1 of 2 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 2015

    I am brutally honest. Popular, love everything they read, reviewers are scared to go neg. and risk their ranking. It's your money!!!

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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.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah O. Simpson Big, Wonderful Wyoming 04-11-14
    Deborah O. Simpson Big, Wonderful Wyoming 04-11-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Good book. Not the best audiobook, but good."
    Would you listen to In the Heart of the Sea again? Why?

    Very good historical detail. Well written. But it drags a bit. We listened on a long drive. We stopped for lunch and when we got back in the car I started to turn the book back on and my husband's comment was "Yes. Let's get back to dying S-L-O-W-L-Y." But a good book, just not the best most engaging one.


    What other book might you compare In the Heart of the Sea to and why?

    Endurance, but Endurance is better.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Washington, DC, United States 11-26-13
    Laura Washington, DC, United States 11-26-13 Member Since 2012

    Long commute = Lots of time for audiobooks

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    "Very Exciting, Very Depressing"

    File this one under "Truth is stranger (and sometimes better) than fiction." I listened to this because I enjoyed Philbrick's "Mayflower," knew he was an excellent researcher and storyteller, and knew I liked Scott Brick as a narrator. I was not at all prepared for the tragedies upon tragedies in this book. I suspect if you're considering reading this book, you're already aware you are not in for a smooth or happy ride, but even so, brace yourself. It's just incredibly depressing, this story, because Philbrick does such an amazing job of showing us the despair the men aboard the Essex must have felt. I'm not sure the modern reader can come away from this with any real lessons or morals that apply to life today, but I was nonetheless glad I learned about a previously unfamiliar piece of history, and a gripping, fascinating one at that.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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