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In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
In the Heart of the Sea The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
Author: Nathaniel Philbrick
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 twenty 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 »
ISBN-13: 9780141001821
ISBN-10: 0141001828
Publication Date: 5/1/2001
Pages: 320
Rating:
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 262

4.1 stars, based on 262 ratings
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette
Members Wishing: 1
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 10
Totally riveting- disturbing, but so worth reading.. one of my all time recommendations; especially if you are from New England
MarciNYC avatar reviewed In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex on
Helpful Score: 9
In August 1819, the Essex set out from Nantucket on another whaling adventure. This journey, however, was far from normal. In November 1820, the ship was rammed by a sperm whale and sunk. This book tells the story of the 20 man-crew and their quest to travel overseas (more than 2000 miles) to reach the safety of South America. Of the 20 men, only eight survived to tell the tale of three months adrift in the South Pacific. The Essex tragedy was Melville's inspiration for Moby Dick.

The book was somewhat dull to begin with and I nearly gave up a few times, but once the whale struck, it seemed like the pace picked up and you had to keep reading to learn the fate of these men. Some of the descriptions in the book are quite graphic (carving up the whale, the physical condition of the men), yet I kept reading. One has to be amazed at how these men survived this incredible journey in three small whaleboats.

I am grateful for the maps in the book (pages 46-47 for the voyage of the Essex and page179 for the voyages of the whaleboats) but found their location in the book annoying. I referred to them a great deal so I could get my bearings as to where the boats were located -- they should have been in the front of the book for easy access.

Overall, an incredible tale of adventure and survival.
quiltgranny avatar reviewed In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
A most exciting story which inspired Moby Dick - all of it is true. There are pictures of the actual people who were involved as well as interesting information on Nantucket, whaling and the era in which it transpired. ONe of my favorite books of all time!
althea avatar reviewed In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex on + 774 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
An excellent book - well-researched non-fiction, but written in an entertaining, grab-your-attention manner.
In it, my ancestral cousins from Nantucket get their boat stove in by a whale, make some very ill-informed and unwise decisions, and spend a lot of time sailing around the ocean, resorting to cannibalism, and dying. Fun!
It's the incident that Herman Melville (not a relative of mine) based 'Moby Dick' on.
When I was little, I read a great many books on whaling and such (family history and all), but this book, I felt, really helped give a more up-to-date and accurate perspective on it.
Recommended for anyone with an interest in the subject.
Leigh avatar reviewed In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex on + 377 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This engaging and thoroughly interesting book lends insight into the whaling industry of the early 19th century. More importantly, it delves into the startling details of the sinking of the "Essex" during a whale-hunting trip.

I could not believe how much nautical vocabulary I ascertained from the asides cleverly woven into the story. (A tribute to Melville, perhaps?) I learned how a sperm whale got its name; I learned what "fishy" means when referring to a sailor; I learned the origin of the measurement "knots."

This is, indeed, the tragedy that inspired Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" and one can easily identify the characters in the crew of the "Essex." It frightens me to what lengths humans will go to ensure personal survival. If you're into nautical lore and legend, read this. It deserved the National Book Award.
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virgosun avatar reviewed In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex on + 818 more book reviews
I was riveted to this long-ago whaling tragedy. An easy read with fascinating insight into the dangers of whaling and the men who followed that life. Hard to put down. I constantly referred to the maps, photos, and logs to give me a better idea of what these poor men suffered through. How horrifying. 4.5 stars.
reviewed In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex on + 3 more book reviews
Having been a fan of Melville's MOBY DICK over mny years, I was fascinated by the whale. I followed up on the ESSEX as a matter of research as I am writing a play about Ishmael after his survival. The history of tghe ESSEX has proved veryh valuable for this project.
reviewed In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex on + 80 more book reviews
The story of whaling by the sturdy men from Nantucket aboard the whaleship Essex in the early 1800's. The book provides ample background for you to have a feel for why those men went on those long journeys in search of the whales. You know from the beginning of the book the Essex's trip will end in a failure with a horrible outcome, but the book will immerse you in the day by day tasks and enormous troubles these men face in their attempt to survive. This true story of the Essex is the one upon which Herman Melville's story of "Moby Dick" was based. You will find yourself in question of who and how the shipmates will survive this ordeal, enjoy.
chenninger avatar reviewed In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex on
Couldn't put this book down. Its amazing what these guys did to hunt whales and even more amazing when the whales fight back and a group of men are stranded at sea. When you are so hungry you eat your friend it always makes for a good story.
reviewed In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex on + 86 more book reviews
I've had Nathaniel Philbrick's "Mayflower" on my shelf for months, but could never really get into it even though I am extremely interested in the events of that era - not a Mayflower descendent, but my father's family has roots that go back to the 1600's in Massachusetts. However, this book was completely engrossing, fascinating, captivating, and best of all, a true story.
thehurl7 avatar reviewed In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex on + 7 more book reviews
A great book about the story that inspired the book Moby Dick. The author definitely did his research on this subject and it shows, but he doesn't just present the information. He puts you in the story and does a great job of building tension and conveying the conflict involved in this story.

If you like this book, I strongly recommend 'Endurance' by Alfred Lansing. It is an even more amazing survival story and very well written like this book.


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