In the Heart of the Sea brings to new life the incredible story of the wreck of the whaleship Essex—an event as mythic in its own century as the Titanic disaster in ours, and the inspiration for the climax of Moby-Dick. In a harrowing page-turner, Nathaniel Philbrick restores this epic story to its rightful place in American history.
In 1820, the 240-ton Essex set sail from Nantucket on a routine voyage for whales. Fifteen months later, in the farthest reaches of the South Pacific, it was repeatedly rammed and sunk by an eighty-ton bull sperm whale. Its twenty-man crew, fearing cannibals on the islands to the west, made for the 3,000-mile-distant coast of South America in three tiny boats. During ninety days at sea under horrendous conditions, the survivors clung to life as one by one, they succumbed to hunger, thirst, disease, and fear.
In the Heart of the Sea tells perhaps the greatest sea story ever. Philbrick interweaves his account of this extraordinary ordeal of ordinary men with a wealth of whale lore and with a brilliantly detailed portrait of the lost, unique community of Nantucket whalers. Impeccably researched and beautifully told, the book delivers the ultimate portrait of man against nature, drawing on a remarkable range of archival and modern sources, including a long-lost account by the ship’s cabin boy. At once a literary companion and a page-turner that speaks to the same issues of class, race, and man’s relationship to nature that permeate the works of Melville, In the Heart of the Sea will endure as a vital work of American history.
Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea is a riveting study of the fortitude of the human spirit. A tale of endurance, perseverance, and resourcefulness, the story reads like a fictional adventure, but it is the recounting of the tragic true story that gave Herman Melville the inspiration for Moby Dick.
In vivid detail, Philbrick takes the reader to the Nantucket of 1820, delving into the history of the whaling industry and daily life on the island. The tale follows the ill-fated voyage of the whaleship Essex, detailing the survival of the crew members after their ship is attacked by a giant whale and they face thousands of miles of open ocean in small whaleboats.
Philbrick’s talent lies in making history come alive on the pages, and he does so with wrenching intensity. A compelling, well-researched story, In the Heart of the Sea will grip the reader from the first page to the last.