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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 (2143 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Robert McGowan, Ph.D. Herriman, UT US 11-17-16
    Robert McGowan, Ph.D. Herriman, UT US 11-17-16
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    4
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    "Story vs Performance"

    The story is fascinating ! The performance by the reader was disappointing. I recommend that the curious seek out the film which is very well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ross 11-15-16
    Ross 11-15-16 Member Since 2015
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    "An excellent, though meandering, story of survival"

    Nathaniel Philbrick is quickly becoming my favorite historical author. He has a unique talent for gathering boatloads (pun intended) of information, synthesizing that information into a cohesive narrative, and then imbuing that narrative with enough character and humanity to bring the story to life. His work in In the Heart of the Sea is no exception.

    The story of the Essex and, more importantly, the men who sailed on her, is harrowing, terrifying, and deeply human. Philbrick captures these men and their travails perfectly. In the process, he brings to life a corner of history that is rarely explored. I loved learning about Nantucket, how its Quaker culture oddly meshed with the violence of whaling, and the seafaring culture the little island helped build.

    That said, Philbrick displayed a tendency to wander in this book that I haven't noticed as much in his other works. I appreciate the background and context information provided in In the Heart of the Sea, but Philbrick often takes sudden detours into pieces of relative minutiae that I found to be distracting rather than enriching. This detours were generally short, but seemed to become more frequent as the book progressed. I often found myself wishing we could just get back to the story of the Essex's crew.

    Then again, this wandering never really hampered my enjoyment of this title. Philbrick is a very talented writer and storyteller, and Scott Brick's narration is a perfect fit for his writing style. Despite my small complaint, I highly recommend the book to fans of nautical history and, more broadly, to fans of American history in general.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori 10-12-16
    Lori 10-12-16
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    "A whale of a tragedy"

    I really enjoyed listening to this book. I saw the movie but nothing compares to the detail and descriptions in this read. Anyone interested in the story of the Essex, Moby Dick or sea adventures of the period should enjoy this pick.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    christy Plano, TX, United States 09-07-16
    christy Plano, TX, United States 09-07-16
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    Story
    "I was concerned about the whales and then...."

    No one can endorse whaling, but since this was a different era, I decided to give this book a try. I'm glad I did. While whaling is part of the story, it is small part. The other trials and tribulations were so mind-boggling that it feels like a footnote. Great read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neil San Francisco, CA, United States 09-01-16
    Neil San Francisco, CA, United States 09-01-16
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    "A Legendary Tail"

    This is my second Philbrick book and he is true to form. The book takes you from Nantucket to the open Pacific to where a bull whale defended his pod. I was rooting for the whale, and then rooting for the men to survive. It is a classic movie story with a novice captain and experience first officer fighting for the control of the ship from the beginning. If you like sea adventures then this is for you. I read Alive about a more modern disaster where cannibalism took place. Philbrick doesn't hold back on the cannibalism. That part was hard for me to stomach. But again only a small percentage of people are stuck in that situation.
    Highly recommend. This book reads fast.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Equinozzi 08-31-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Awesome!"

    Best book I have listened to this year! If you like Eric Larsons' books you will love this

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darryl 08-16-16
    Darryl 08-16-16 Member Since 2008
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    "Amazing"

    This is an incredible true story which has elements that influenced Herman Melville as I'm sure everyone's aware now. But if you've only seen the abomination of a film you were cheated out of an incredible and at times gut wrenching survival story. I looked forward to the film so much for over a year when I heard about it, but I was so disgusted by what they did to this I nearly walked out, but didn't cause a friend was with me, to whom I had to explain all the missteps and flat out lies. Non-fiction at its best.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Robert Chicago, IL, United States 08-11-16
    Robert Chicago, IL, United States 08-11-16
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    "Great read - watch out for the 1.5hrs of footnotes"

    This book is a wonderful mix of great story telling and interesting history. In addition to the story of the boat and the sailors there is a full background of the country, the whaling industry, sailing, biology, culture, and many other aspects spread throughout.

    This book is well researched, however there should be a warning attached that the last 1.5hrs of the listen are the footnotes. May be interesting to some, but greatly overstates the actual length of the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ross M. Houston 07-19-16
    Ross M. Houston 07-19-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Fascinating, but stop after the story..."

    ...unless you want to listen to the hours/chapters of footnotes. Credit to the author for acknowledging each of his sources, but endnotes should not be listed as "chapters."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clint 07-15-16
    Clint 07-15-16 Member Since 2016
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    "I loved this book"

    If you aren't familiar with whaling or the Essex, this is a great story for you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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