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)
A 32 year old with a painfully short attention span. Audio books brought me back to reading.
The book itself is great for the most part. While I can't find myself sympathizing with the men, I do find myself getting caught up in the story and eagerly waiting to see what happens next. That's not always the case with true stories. Story wise my issue is with the graphic details of killing the whales and turtles. Don't get me wrong, I knew there'd be death. It's a whaling ship, of course whales will die. But I think the author got a little overzealous with the descriptions at times. (Do I really need the intricate details of the men slitting a sea turtle's throat and drinking it's blood? Eew.)
My issue with the audiobook is one that I've seen at least one other reviewer mention. Sometimes mid sentence it'll suddenly skip ahead. And on top of that the entire narration sounds different. It's like they recorded the book on a bunch of different machines, and at least once I wasn't even entirely sure it was the same narrator. That's such a shame too, because I love listening to Scott Brick read.
Overall I would recommend this book, I'd just warn ahead of time that it's a little wonky and a little gory.
Long commute = Lots of time for audiobooks
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.
Amazing and horrific description of death by starvation and thirst and the incredible things it can make you do
I most enjoyed the section in the book that covered the 89 days of survival at sea. The biggest surprise bonus in the book was the great history of Nantucket during the hay day of whaling. I like the way the book starts when the survivors were found and then goes back and tells how they got into the predicament. The author gives so much great detail about life in those days and life aboard those ships for 2 and 3 years as well as how whaling started even before we had those large ships. And as another bonus he covers many years after the Essex's disaster going into the details of how and why Nantucket declined.
And the author adds to the book by referencing other similar sea disasters that have occurred since and how they were similar and different. And he also adds insights from modern knowledge of whales.
When the did battle with the giant sperm whale that rammed them twice. And then the tough decisions they had to make to survive. I was particularly moved by the Australian Captain who went out of his way to find the 2 survivors on the island when he had been told the wrong island but decided to search other islands after the first one had no survivors.
So very hard to choose but the scenes when they were struggling against the extreme weather elements were exciting.
When most of the main city on Nantucket burned down - fueled by the whale oil - as the author called it "The Revenge of the Leviathan".
I know enough to know, I don't know all I want to know...
Yes because some of the details/facts are lost because one is absorbed with the hardships that these folks endured.
Even though I have read Moby Dick, and have been to both Mystic and Nantucket several times, there are things I missed that this book seems to fill in.
There were a couple of times when the playback seemed to skip ahead, and audio was not consistent, which cause some angst while listening.
Love Reading, happy I found Audible. Listen to books, on my way home, while working out, and at work. Been reading a lot of Non-Fiction history and science.
This is a great book, that not only brings to life the true and sad story of the Essex. But it dives in to the history and practices of whaling, it is not for the faint of heart. It is very well written and keeps to the story, never swaying to far to bring in backstory and fact. If you like history or tales about the sea you should definitely pick it up, but like I said it is not for the faint of heart. Whaling is a brutal profession, and surviving a ship wreck to be stranded at sea proved to be even worse. As far as the performance, I enjoyed the reader he set a great tone through out the book. There are issues between chapters, at times a following chapter would almost start on top of the previous, it was jarring at first but not a deal breaker.
The true story of the shipwreck of the Whaling Ship Essex. It is sadly everything we have come to think about, when we think about sailors who starve and thirst as they clinging to a life raft at sea.
Lost in the Ocean for 90 days, the few survivors paint a grisly picture of the lengths they were willing to go to, to stay alive. The style of writing is more "journalistic" than other notable survival stories, and the reference to quotes and historical references, can at times seem cold and objective.
Included in this history of the shipwreck, is: a background of Nantucket, Mass.; background of the whaling industry; complete character profiles of all involved- before and after; and how the shipwreck affected all involved.
I would have preferred just the survival story as written from start to finish, but it was interesting, if not compelling.
Love to listen and walk or run and knit, knit knit
The historical perspective and the ties to Moby Dick made it a read that is relatable. Of course, I was a Melville fan in college, but knowing that the basis of the Moby Dick was based on this story captured me.
Probably the captain Pollard, but others were equally brillinat
It went so fast. Never thought I would like this read, but I loved it. One of my best reads this year.
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.
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