In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

by Nathaniel Philbrick

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In the Heart of the Sea 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 192 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hesitated in purchasing this book for a long time due to my expectation that a the majority of the story about sailors trapped at sea would get boring and I would loose interest based on may past reading experience. I however, I have rad other Philbrick books including Sea of GLory so I took a chance. Wow I am glad I did. Philbrick has done it again. I could not put the book down. What an amazing story and Philbrick's style once again is excellent. My next read is The Last Stand and then Mayflower and after The Heart of the Sea I want to re-read Sea of Glory. I look forward to more great books from Philbrick.
D_Steadman More than 1 year ago
This book opens with an interesting preface which introduces the reader to the entire Nantucket whaling man's lifestyle. This encompassing view into the early 1800's handily sets the scene into the readers mind for the rest of the book. This book was written by Nathaniel Philbrick. As a resident of Nantucket island he has a personal viewpoint to write this story from. His book begins with the excitement of a young man going on his first whaling journey. The book quickly throws you into the story and never gives you a chance to pull yourself away. 15 months into the journey of the Whaling ship Essex, during a routine whale hunting expedition the Essex was attacked by "a great white whale". Utterly destroying the ships bow and stranding the crew at sea. The 20 man crew was forced to travel in 3 small whaleboats in hopes of reaching shore. Being only 1500 miles away from the western islands, they decided to forgo that route in fear of cannibals. Instead they took the route to South America. A 3000 mile voyage in 3 25-foot boats with less than 2 weeks of very limited provisions. In the end Eight people survived, after being forced to the point of cannibalism to survive. The Essex was the most sensational story of its time. The story was larger then the story of the Titanic is today. This book brings back into the spotlight the tragedy that happened that fateful day and the sheer bravery of the men who persevered and survived the gruesome ordeal fate threw them into. This book also ends with explanations of the whaling lore and the effect this event had on American Literature, the largest of which is the Basis for the great American novel Moby Dick. I would greatly recommend this book to anyone interested in whaling lore or the whaleship Essex. I was given this book as a gift from my cousin with no previous knowledge of the event and I can honestly say it was a struggle to put it down. Philbrick spins a fantastic story and draws you into the scene to where you can almost smell the sea breeze blowing over your face.
cmp53 More than 1 year ago
As a fan of history, this was an event that I honestly can admit I didn't know much about so I thought I would read the book. This is a well written, thoroughly gripping book that makes you appreciate what our forefathers went thru to earn a living. A great book that you will not be able to put down.
JPaul More than 1 year ago
Fascinating Gripping from the first pages through the Epilouge. Educational and exciting all in one.
atomsplitter More than 1 year ago
I can't add to the glowing reviews of this book. Others have said some pretty nice things about it and I have to agree. The only complaint I have with the nook book is the price tag and again maps are illegible. The book is all of 238 pages long, as the rest of the book is notes and bibliography, so it isn't a long book to read but the nearly $16 price tag for an ebook is a little rich.
tagandrelease More than 1 year ago
Anyone who enjoys Nantucket, or history, or a good thriller will love this book. As the saying goes, the truth is stranger than fiction. A whaleboat and its hardy crew, a bull whale and its pod, the brutal harpooning of a mother whale and its calf, the "revenge" of the biggest whale in the pod, the sinking of the mother ship and the fight for life that ensued. combine this with true historical accounts and you have your summer read. Dig your toes into Nantucket's warm summer sand, open a Corona and sit back listen to the waves and let your eyes pass over the words of the pages that will take you away to a day when Nantucket was an oil refinery and no whale was safe.
Wilfong More than 1 year ago
Why would anyone want to read a novel with non-ficton books like this on the shelf. Whether your into whaling or not reading about the life and times of the typical seaman this book is inlightening and obsorbing. The struggles they went though on the open ocean in 25' boats thousands of miles from land goes beyond what any common dry lander can comprehend. I give this book almost a 5 across the board.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well researched and well written.
clickinon More than 1 year ago
very good book. i read it very quickly. it ended faster than i thought it would due to all the references. i learned a lot and highly recommend it to anyone.
ZiggyKB More than 1 year ago
When I read Mobey-Dick as a high schooler, I assumed the enraged whale was a fiction. My exposure to whales in tv documentaries had shown them to be benign and sweet tempered. Not true of Sperm Whales, apparently. In the Heart of the Sea is the compelling, true story account of the whale ship Essex, sunk by the repeated attack of a Sperm Whale in the vast emptiness of the Pacific. And sure enough, Melville was very aware of the Essex story, as pretty much everyone in the 19th century was. Philbrick is an excellent historian, and his knowledge of whaling and Melville is on display throughout this book. He makes frequent connections to the American masterpiece of Mobey-Dick in this very readable and fascinating story of survival and cannibalism in the three life boats containing the survivors of the whale's attack. There were several diagrams and maps in the eBook version that I read that I wished I could blow up a little bigger to study the details (not the fault of the book, but of the eBook format). The Index at the back contained pages of entries, but no page numbers -- so if you wanted to find a particular fact later, it didn't work as intended. Nits aside, I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy history, story telling, and high seas adventure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While slow in the beginning, this was a very good historical story that kept me captivated while stirring a wide range of emotion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This sounds like a great story. Full of suspense and adventure
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Think you're having a bad day? Read this and youll realize things could be a lot worse.
JH0 More than 1 year ago
Just finishing up a 2nd read of this excellent book - before the movie comes out!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed reading this
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a great intro to the world of a whaler in the days of sail! I lived very close to where this crew sailed from where the history of whaling is still taught, and I think this book taught me more of it then did the field trips and history classes. Its not all about the whales either, its more about what the crew went through to survive the sea. Fascinating book!
kenno82 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing story. Philbrick manages to weave a record of Nantucket's whaling history into his well-researched, horrific account of what happened to the crew of the whaleship Essex. The author has searched widely to detail the emotions and the physical effects that the crew experienced. I did find the book frustratingly short, which I guess is always a sign of an interesting read. Not sure if it was my particular edition, but I would've also enjoyed some photos of artefacts from the voyage, the island of Nantucket, whaling ships etc.
LisaLynne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love adventure books of all sorts and this was truly a cut above. I was fascinated by the class differences and the way they played out in the lifeboats, by the degree of detail when it came to the gritty business of slaughtering whales and the tidbits about life at sea. Unfortunately, this book was selected for my book club, and there wasn't much for a group to discuss: whales are big and smelly, starvation is bad. That about covered it. So while I wouldn't recommend it for a book club, I strongly recommend it for other adventurous souls.
Stbalbach on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story of the sinking of the Nantucket Island whale ship Essex in 1821, and its genesis for the novel Moby Dick, has been popularly known through the personal memoir of the first mate published one year after the event. However in the 1980's a new account surfaced in someones attic, the story re-told from someone else who had been there. Nathaniel Philbrick spent a number of years researching what actually happened based on the latest evidence and has put together a highly readable popular historical narrative. Not only a detailed account of a survival at sea, there is considerable depth on the history of Nantucket Island, the whaling industry, whales, and biographies of a number of people on-board the ship. Philbrick does not glorify or mythologize the men of the Essex like Herman Melville, rather he remains factual and indeed says at the end it was not a tale of survival but a human tragedy probably avoidable except for some mistaken choices. I listened to the audio version and found it to be of the first rate - compelling, easy to listen to for hours at end, easy to follow. The book translates very well to audio and the narrator is one of the best.
elsyd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent and disturbing! I found the scientific notes about the effects of starvation especially interesting. It gave me a whole new appreciation for other tragedies involving people lost and in dire straits i.e. The Donner Party, the soccor players marooned in the mtns of South America, etc.
kelawrence on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Amazing true story - so well researched, but not history-textbook dry. Will definitely read another by this author.
ElectricRay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As Nathaniel Philbrick freely admits, history is replete with tales of shipwrecked castaways - and planewrecked rugger teams - eating each other. And the Essex was not the only whale boat to sink, nor even was it the only one to get rammed by a whale. Nor is N. Philbrick the only man to have written about this particular ship: leaving aside Herman Melville, Philbrick acknowledges and cites at length from three other authors who have written on the same subject, and two of them were actually on board.So while the book rips along at a jaunty pace, and is a pleasant enough read, it's never clear what its raison d'etre is, other than to cash in on the current appetite for strange but true tales about quirky but forgetten strugglers against the conventions and odds of history (you know, Fermat's Theorem, Longitude, that sort of thing).The learned author also fails to even consider, let alone answer, the point that, if the great offshore whaling grounds were in the South Pacific, why - instead of sailing there, around South America, from the New York region, didn't the Natucketers just up sticks and move to California? Would have saved them a lot of time, you'd think, not to mention the aggravation of rounding Cape Horn.A worthy enough effort, but it is a bit pointless, and inevitably it pales into comparison with Moby Dick.
jonbeckett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wonderful re-telling of the story that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick. Perhaps more importantly, it provides a wonderful portrait of life in Nantucket and on the ships during the height of the Whaling industry.Hard lives and incredibly difficult conditions make for wonderful stories - and we have the youngest member of the crew of the east to thank for writing about his experiences in later years.
brose72 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Captivating story of adventure and survival
bezoar44 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book recounts the 1820 destruction of the whaling ship Essex (by an enraged whale), and the subsequent ordeal of the crew as they voyaged across a mostly empty expanse of the South Pacific trying to get back to the west coast of South America. It is a light, entertaining read; Philbrick provides some background about key topics (Nantucket; whaling; the physiology of starvation; cannibalism at sea), but never so much as to bog down the story. The book left two lasting impressions: first, that whaling was not only an incredibly bloody enterprise, but that it was obviously unsustainable if the whalers stopped to think about it at all -- they were having to go farther and farther into unfamiliar waters as they wiped out closer populations; and second, that the captain and mates of the Essex were mediocre sailors - not incompetent, but also not very sharp, and as a result, most of them died unnecessarily. Philbrick doesn't reference disaster theory at all, but the story offers illuminating material for anyone interested in that field.