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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 (2197 )
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  •  
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 08-04-12
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 08-04-12 Member Since 2008

    My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.

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    "Awesomely great story of men at sea"

    I had long known that Moby Dick had antecedents in a real life event, but I had no idea so much detailed information was available about it. Philbrick does a brilliant job of pulling all the original sources together and making this story real and human. Watching this group of men deal with their circumstances, making decisions based on the available information, suffering from the consequences of those decisions, was vicarious living at its best. This book should tell you just about everything you'd ever want to know about the 19th century whaling industry. It's also a great story about human nature and how all of us act and react in the face of adversity.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt OVERLAND PARK, KS, United States 04-29-12
    Matt OVERLAND PARK, KS, United States 04-29-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Awesome Book….reads like a novel"

    Fascinating book on many levels. 19th century sailing, whaling, survival, endurance, etc….. I loved it. And like always, Scott Brick is the master of narration. If I were a history teacher this book would be required reading! Five big stars on this one!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra Brentwood, CA, USA 03-09-07
    Sandra Brentwood, CA, USA 03-09-07 Member Since 2012
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    "Riveting............."

    This was an amazing "listen". So hard to even imagine in one's wildest dreams what these men and boys endured. The life lasting effect must have been immense - a story no author could pen without the facts to guide him. I am a history lover but would recommend this book to all those who are not as well as those who are. I thoroughly enjoyed "The Mayflower" but was awestruck by this story.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reader in Rochester Rochester, MN 09-26-12
    Reader in Rochester Rochester, MN 09-26-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Interesting, but dry"
    What did you like best about In the Heart of the Sea? What did you like least?

    The facts were obviously researched. However, sometimes the story became a bit dry when the background facts were outlined.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The trials the men went through to survive their time at sea were fascinating. The details of life on Nantucket and the Quaker church were quite boring.


    Do you think In the Heart of the Sea needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Definitely not. This is a historical book. Any further books based off of it would be pure fiction.


    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Magikarp Salad 04-27-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Why didn't I know this story?!"

    I'll admit, I'd never have picked this up without someone repeatedly prodding me to do so...but I'm really glad I did. I mostly read/listen to sci-fi/fantasy, so I'm skeptical about anything non-fiction...if I wanted non-fiction I'd watch the flippin' news (is about how my poor attitude would respond...) - but this story is good...hard to put the feeling into words - kind of intriguing and horrifying...on many levels. Not just the...main tragedy part - but what makes someone want to do this...the normal things they do...that they don't consider tragedies...from the catching and processing of whales, to the stuff that happens on the islands (like the Galapagos)...my god...

    If you already know the story of the Essex, there probably isn't a ton of new info - but still worth the listen. If you don't know the story that was part of Melville's inspiration for Moby Dick, you should probably pick this one up!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruce Wayne Minneapolis, MN United States 07-28-05
    Bruce Wayne Minneapolis, MN United States 07-28-05 Member Since 2005
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    "Gripping"

    Great descriptions of whaling and of the hardships faced by the crew of the Essex.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aaron M Harris 07-10-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Fascinating Historical Story Telling"
    If you could sum up In the Heart of the Sea in three words, what would they be?

    Educational, Fascinating, Gripping


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

    The chapter about the sperm whale attacking the Essex ship was a masterpiece.


    Any additional comments?

    The story is fascinating and gripping, yet educational. It is well researched and told with great historical precision. Even though it retells historical events/facts, it reads like a novel. At first you find yourself rooting for the whales, then when you get to know the detailed lives of the crew and their struggle, you come to understand they were just trying to make a living and they too are humans. I learned a lot from this book about whaling, Nantucket, and got a feeling of what it might have been to live in 1820 in Nantucket. Scott Brick does a great job reading the novel, and i think made the experience very pleasurable. I would recommend this to anybody who likes to read about history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian K. Phoenix, AZ United States 06-12-17
    Ian K. Phoenix, AZ United States 06-12-17 Member Since 2015
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    "one of my favorite books."

    masterfully written and skillfully narrated. this book is a must for any fan of Melville's Moby dick.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Scott 02-04-17
    Scott 02-04-17
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    "Slow starter, builds steam throughout"

    a good story. get through the first couple chapters and it gets better and better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Robert Levin 12-16-16 Member Since 2016
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    "grim but true tail"

    this audio book was so much better than the movie. showed the inaccuracies of the movie version to provide a good historical perspective.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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