Though comparable in importance and breadth of success to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Ex. Ex. has been largely forgotten. Now, the celebrated Nathaniel Philbrick recreates this chapter of American maritime history in all its triumph and scandal.
Like the award-winning In the Heart of the Sea, Sea of Glory combines meticulous history with spellbinding human drama as it circles the globe from the palm-fringed beaches of the South Pacific to the treacherous waters off Antarctica and to the stunning beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and, finally, to a court-martial aboard a ship anchored off New York City.
©2003 Nathaniel Philbrick; (P)2003 Penguin Audiobooks
"A breathtaking account of one of history's greatest adventures." (Entertainment Weekly)
If you like historical non-fiction about interesting expeditions, this should be a good listen (I read the paper version). Lt. Wilkes is a classic flawed leader, aloof, somewhat cruel, but his determination drove his crew on a great voyage though he struggled for notoriety. The amazing collection of artifacts that Wilkes brought home formed the foundation of the Smithsonian collection. I really like the detail of maritime life circa 1840, and Philbrick delivers. His writing makes even provisioning ships interesting. His previous book "Heart of the Sea" was a bit more gripping (albeit more harsh), but "Sea of Glory" is a very good book by a great historical writer.
The Good – I am amazed that I never had heard of the ExEx before this book. Very disappointed in our public education system for that. From a purely historic point of view I liked the book. I liked learning about the expedition because I needed to learn about something so monumental. I made a few book marks for reference that I can return to later, but overall the book just didn’t give me what I had expected.
The Not So Good – To be fair I’m going to have to give this book a second listen, but on first pass it just lacks something. The book told a lot of the human stories, but didn’t tell much of the science stories at least not in much detail. The author went through great pains to explain in telling detail why a certain officer did a certain thing, but he didn’t go into much story telling about the science discoveries. This really didn’t strike me until the end of the book where he listed the hundreds of samples the expedition brought back with them. It left me saying; “why didn’t you tell more about those samples and how and where they came from?" I'm not sure if I should follow that question with an "ugh!" or a "duh!"?
The Narration - Scott Brick is one of my favorite narrators, but for some reason I don’t think he was the right fit for this particular book’s writing style. Not that it was bad by any measure, but I think someone with a deeper voice and slower cadence could have made the book more interesting? Perhaps a Brit don't you know? Although I’m sure someone would take umbrage to that given the national pride of the subject matter.
The Overall – Sea of Glory is okay and was fairly good overall. I definitely learned something, which I always appreciate. I will listen to it again to see if I missed something that would push my rating a bit higher, but I'm not sure that will happen. In closing, I’m not disappointed by the book, but I’m not overjoyed by it either.
Where to start? This is a detailed story of an American exploratory expedition, begun in 1838, that few people seem to know of or care about. I found it fascinating. Personalities, politics, and the course of history have managed to obscure the story of Wilkes, leader of the expedition, and the accomplishments of his lengthy voyage and explorations. This story is also a historical soap opera that will enthrall anyone who loves tales of explorers, the risks they took, the discoveries they made, and the interpersonal clashes and comradeship formed along the way.
Certainly not Wilkes himself. He is the epitome of the type of person whom I detest: an obsessive, insecure, self-serving bully who abused his crews and who took credit for their discoveries. He makes the British Captain Bligh appear warm and cuddly by comparison. My favorite character was a junior officer, William Reynolds, who was everything admirable that Wilkes was not, and who subsequently bore the brunt of Wilkes's jealousy and abusive treatment.
There are far too many memorable scenes in this book to allow me to choose just one. I suspect Sea of Glory will be an earlier than usual re-listen for me.
Same as above--too many for me to choose one. Perhaps my favorite moments were any in which Reynolds received promotion, recognition or approval. Conversely, I was thrilled at any reference to Wilkes being discomfited by censure or inadequate recognition.
Great book. Perfect narration by Scott Brick.
very good narration gave meaning to the words
yes as Nathaniel Philbrick is one of my favorite history authors writing style is superb. This topic is probably his least known and that simply shouldn't be given the enormous contributions of the US Ex Ex.
Exploration of Antarctica
I had read the printed version of the book when it was new so this was a really good comparison for me. the audiobook was tougher to follow but that's usually true as compared to having the pages in your hand.
The reading (or listening) of historic events always amazes me, and Nathaniel Philbrick was again superb in his research (also seen on his "In the Heart of the Sea") and the story of almost 4 years of a little known fantastic expedition. On top of that, Scott Brick is able to put you on the scene. One said that when you come to hate (or admire) a character so much, the author has done a great job. That is the case with Charles Wilkes and why not to say, politicians of that area, who would undermine specialists and facts on behalf of their own interest (much like today...). The findings, maps and drawings produced by the Ex Ex must be amazing so I will stop by at the Smithsonian this Summer to see as much as it is available, in person.
Probably William Reynolds, for his well kept, unknown journal that has documented much of what really happened in that voyage, contrary to what was documented in the "well controlled by Wilkes" journals of other officers. A short note for Sydney...... a cool dog!!!!
No one specifically but I have to say that you don't get tired of listening Scott Brick. He is VERY good for such adventures.
Yes, if I could. It is truly a captivating true story that raises the bar as far as what to read next....
Interesting to know the story of how the Poinsettia flower ended up in the United States and it got its name (don't Google, read the book...).
I really enjoyed this title. Some may find the level of detail of the voyage and what occurred daunting, but to me it was just right.
It's hard to say just how the author does it (good writing perhaps..), but somehow you feel swept away as if you were part of the expedition. Some of the passages were so captivating that I feel like I have actual memories of the events as if I were there at the time.
If you want to know about this fascinating chapter of history that remains surprisingly obscure, you will enjoy this audio book.
Overall pretty good. It's easier to follow if you finish it quickly. The story is not as compelling as some of Philbrick's other histories. The quality of the audio changes from one section to another
The story of a four year exploring expedition which ultimately laid the groundwork for what became the Smithsonian Institution, the Naval Observatory, and the U.S. Botanical Gardens. Amazing outcomes considering the Exploring Expedition was led by such a flawed leader as tyrannical Charles Wilkes. Philbrick's research in compiling this account is exhaustive. Scott Brick does an excellent job of reading this fascinating tale of oceanic discovery.
Report Inappropriate Content