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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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4.4 (266 )
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4.2 (261 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jacqueline Denver, CO, USA 04-04-11
    Jacqueline Denver, CO, USA 04-04-11 Member Since 2004

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing True Story-and Appropriate Ending"

    The book is really an important history of the start of the whaling business in Nantucket, and an incledible story of perseverance by the men who undertook this profession (even though to do so meant they turned to eating each other.) True, most of them did not survive the ordeal after their boat was rammed by a Sperm Whale, and the few who did survive didn't really have great lives afterwards. Maybe there was a message to those men and others like them- to maybe think about what they were doing to these magnificent mammals of the ocean- killing them by the thousands for their bottom line- and diminishing their numbers forever in the future - never to be completely replaced. As is often the case, men kill not because they have to, but because they can, and usually against defeneless animals who want nothing more than to be left to themselves. In the end, the men got what they probably deserved.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tarra LANSING, MI, United States 07-18-12
    Tarra LANSING, MI, United States 07-18-12 Member Since 2012
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    "OMG-- This is a must read"
    If you could sum up In the Heart of the Sea in three words, what would they be?

    ****OUT-FREAKING-STANDING*****


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

    I can't think of any other book.


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

    All of them- please don't force me to choose.


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

    The moment that moved me was when the crew had to start killing and eating one another.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Valerie Riverside, CT, United States 09-21-11
    Valerie Riverside, CT, United States 09-21-11 Member Since 2009
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    8
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    "Absolutely fascinating"

    I never thought this would be a subject of interest to me, but I was riveted. It's a great story of human strength and frailty, history of the Nantucket whaling industry and culture, and geographical exploration. I thought the narration was fantastic. After I listened to it, my husband and father read it and they both loved it as well.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Baltimore, MD, USA 06-29-10
    Steve Baltimore, MD, USA 06-29-10 Member Since 2010
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    18
    3
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    "Gripping"

    Great story and engaging narration. A detailed and well-researched - though entirely accessible - account of the great whale-ship tragedy. Not for the faint of heart. Highly recommended.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joanne M. McGowan Fredericksburg, VA 03-12-09
    Joanne M. McGowan Fredericksburg, VA 03-12-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Read this for book club"

    Hmmm... I'm pretty sure i would not have made it through this book had it not been for a book club assignment. It was an interesting story, but in many areas it was like reading an accounting ledger (yawn... I'm sorry... what was he saying?). Still, I'd recommend it for those not chased away by lots of facts and figures and graphic description. What these men went through was amazing and I really learned a lot about early American whaling.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caroline Alameda, CA, United States 09-17-10
    Caroline Alameda, CA, United States 09-17-10
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    "could barely get started"

    I fought to like this book and kept at it hoping it would get interesting. Just as it showed some promise, I had to turn it off because of the descriptions of killing whales (guess I should have expected that!) and other marine life. Just couldn't stomach being sad and depressed on my way to work.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris TUCSON, AZ, United States 08-11-10
    Chris TUCSON, AZ, United States 08-11-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Not My Cup Of Tea"

    Didn't care for the story line. I bought the audiobook on the strength on Philbrick's other work (Mayflower) which was fabulous. Incompetent whalers mucking about on the ocean. The narrator did nothing to enliven the strory for me. I made it through 2 disks and said enough. Sorry.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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