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

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship EssexWith Its Huge, Scarred Head Halfway Out Of The Water And Its Tail Beating The Ocean Into A White Water Wake Than Forty Feet Across, The Whale Approached The Ship At Twice Its Original Speed At Least Six Knots With A Tremendous Cracking And Splintering Of Oak, It Struck The Ship Just Beneath The Anchor Secured At The Cat Head On The Port Bow 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 HistoryIn , The 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 , 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 FearPhilbrick 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 BoyAt 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

Philbrick was Brown s first Intercollegiate All American sailor in 1978 that year he won the Sunfish North Americans in Barrington, RI today he and his wife Melissa sail their Beetle Cat Clio and their Tiffany Jane 34 Marie J in the waters surrounding Nantucket Island.After grad school, Philbrick worked for four years at Sailing World magazine was a freelancer for a number of years, during whic

[KINDLE] ❆ In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex By Nathaniel Philbrick –
  • Paperback
  • 302 pages
  • In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
  • Nathaniel Philbrick
  • English
  • 14 July 2017
  • 9780141001821

10 thoughts on “In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

  1. says:

    I turned around and saw him about one hundred rods 500 m or 550 yards directly ahead of us, coming down with twice his ordinary speed of around 24 knots 44 km h , and it appeared with tenfold fury and vengeance in his aspect The surf flew in all directions about him with the continual violent thrashing of his tail His head about half out of the water, and in that way he came upon us, and again struck the ship Owen Chase, first mate of the whaleship Essex There she blows was as much a part of my vocabulary as a child as Launch the torpedoes or Geronimo or Remember the Alamo I wasn t using it correctly, as I was not hunting whales in the middle of Kansas, but I did use it as a rallying cry for a charge against my childhood chums as we chased each other from one end of the farm to the other Of course, in 1820 when a sharp eyed lad in the crow s nest spotted a spume on the horizon, he would yell down to his crew mates, There she blows and the chase would be on The Nantucket ship Essex was commanded by a newly commissioned captain by the name of George Pollard The ship, an old vessel, had always been thought of as a lucky ship, given that it had returned so many profits to the owners Much of the crew was green and were on their first whaling voyage The ranks of Nantucket sailors had been filled out with some African Americans and some men referred to as offshore men, meaning that they were not of Quaker Nantucket stock Early in the voyage, they hit a squall that nearly heels them over For the green hands, the sound alone was terrifying the shrieking of the wind across the rigging and then a frenzied flapping of sails and creaking of the stays and mast Can you imagine that sound I d be convinced that I was about to perish, especially when the ship begins to list Captain Pollard does not spring into action as quickly as he should, but does finally give the right orders, and the good ship Essex rights herself It was a foretaste of what was going to be a disastrous journey In the 19th century, over 200,000 sperm whales were harvested for their spermaceti 770,000 in the twentieth century We always improve at killing things A normal sized whale will have about 500 gallons of this semi waxy substance in their heads When exposed to air, it turns to a semi liquid and looksyou guessed itlike sperm This oily substance was used to lubricate machinery during the industrial revolution and to light lamps Eventually, this oil was replaced by lard and then by petroleum, which probably saved the sperm whale population from extinction Yea, petroleum industry The whalers also harvested the ambergris from the digestive tract of the whale, which was used as a fixative in perfume Women didn t know it, but when they sprayed those beautiful scents on their necks and wrists, they were also spraying whale digestive juice on their carefully coiffed skins A sperm whale, what a beauty In this era, they did not have harpoons that are shot out of a cannon they had to row right up next to the whale, and someone with the right skill and strength thrust the harpoon into the side of the whale These are large mammals, the largest toothed whale, reaching upwards of 80 feet long now only about 65 feet which has been attributed to the excessive hunting of the largest males who, therefore, did not have a chance to pass on their genes and weighing 45 tons They also have the largest known brain of any extinct or modern animal weighing in at 17 lbs If they can avoid the harpoons of man and keep out of the reach of Orcas, they can live up to 70 years Once the harpoon was in the whale, the sailors became the fastest moving humans on the planet as the whale would try to escape by fleeing at upwards of 27 mph while pulling the boat and crew along with it It is about finding that sweet spot in the harpoon so it is balanced perfectly in your hand You can smell the whale You can hear the grunts, groans, and farts of the rowers as they try to keep you level with the creature Your face is slick with whale spume and sweat You know you might only have one chance at this You let go the thunderbolt in your hand and hope you will hear the meaty impact of a man killing a god It wasn t unusual for green hands to upchuck over the side as they watched the death of a whale Nathaniel Philbrick gives a description below that left tears stinging my eyes There is something so majestic about a whale that even the most primitive thinkers among us must feel on some level that killing a whale is an affront against a higher power When you kill something larger than yourself, something that displays such intelligence, you have to feel the world has been diminished When the lance finally found its marks, the whale would begin to choke on its own blood, its spout transformed into a fifteen to twenty foot geyser of gore that prompted the mate to shout Chimney s afire As the blood rained down on them, the men took up the oars and backed furiously away, then paused to watch as the whale went into what was known as its flurry Beating the water with its tail, snapping at the air with its jaws even as it regurgitated large chunks of fish and squid the creature began to swim in an ever tightening circle Then, just as abruptly as the attack had begun with the first thrust of the harpoon it ended The whale fell motionless and silent, black corpse floating fin up in a slick of its own blood and vomit As I was looking through Rockwell Kent s art for Moby Dick, I was surprised how well I remembered each of the sketches even though I haven t read the book for decades.So they take the oil, some blubber, and the ambergris those parts had ready value that made Nantucket in the heyday of the whaling era very wealthy The rest of it the tons of meat, bone, and guts were simply thrown away, creating festering rafts of offal that attracted birds, fish, and, of course, sharks Just as the skinned corpses of buffaloes would soon dot the prairies of the American West, so did the headless gray remains of sperm whales litter the Pacific Ocean in the nineteenth century As I was reading this, even before Philbrick brought forth the comparison to the eradication of the buffalo in the same century, I was having flashbacks to Butcher s Crossing by John Williams I had to stop and go read something else for the rest of the day I needed a break to absorb what I had read and also to create some distance between myself and the horrifying images of whales dying that Philbrick so vividly shared with me As I did with the buffalos in Butcher s Crossing, I also found myself rooting for the whales.Something triggered in one whale, a monster 85 foot creature, who instead of fleeing from these puny humans turned around and crashed into them Instead of acting as a whale was supposed to as a creature never before suspected of premeditated violence, and proverbial for its inoffensiveness this big bull had been possessed by what Chase finally took to be a very human concern for the other whales Thomas Nickerson, the cabin boy and youngest member of the crew, drew this sketch of the attack.This St George of the deep, dragon than man, with two mighty thrusts with his head turned the Essex into a splintered, sinking wreck This story of the Essex is what so famously inspired Herman Melville to write his masterpiece Moby Dick A commercial failure when released, over time has proved to be a canon of American literature The story of the Essex has continued to be taught in American History classes, inspiring children with the tale of survival Moby Dick may not appear on many high school syllabuses any The daunting 600 page count is simply too much for the curricula of the school system, but I did see it appear on a college syllabi not too long ago unfortunately only excerpts were being studied The survival of eight crew members out of a total of twenty is harrowing indeed A new captain used to taking orders instead of giving orders listened to some bad advice from his first and second mates 95 days in a boat could have been shortened to mere weeks if he had stuck to his original thinking There are some interesting discussions about the demise of all the black sailors and of most of the offshore men In fact, the only three offshore men who survived are the ones who opted to stay on an island rather than continue in the boats The Nantucket men stuck together, and all five who stayed in the boats who survived were Nantucket men Philbrick will describe the effects on the body, experiencing extreme thirst and the metabolic rates Women and older people with lower metabolism actually do better in cold water or in cases of extreme hunger As gallant as vigorous men like to be, giving extra rations to women and older people, they actually, logically, should be keeping those rations for themselves Men with high muscle content, who naturally need calories, will suffer the quickest loss of mass and will die first Captain Pollard is older and slightly rotund, which gives him an advantage over the younger, leaner sailors As food and water disappear, they must resort to the most desperate of measures The men were not much than skeletons themselves, and the story that would be passed from ship to ship in the months ahead was that they were found sucking the bones of their dead mess mates, which they were loath to part with FleshBloodBoneMarrow There is a 2015 movie based on this book that is also called In the Heart of the Sea starring Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, and Cillian Murphy I love the visual that the movie poster conveys.If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at

  2. says:

    There s one thing you need to know about me I ve never listened to a song by Rush all the way through Really If Alvin and the Chipmunks were re imagined as opera singers, the lead singer could be bass I can t take them seriously.Okay, okay Really there are two things you need to know about me I distrust people who walk on the balls of their feet You know, that little bounce Call it instinct, but I see something morally deficient in it It s like Nature is giving the rest of us a heads up Hold on There are three things you need to know about me At the age of three, I watched the movie Jaws in its entirety from the back seat of my parents Volkswagen Bug at a drive in theater Poor things thought I was asleep and had absolutely no intention of traumatizing their only child To this day, I have an abnormal fear of the ocean, yet I am morbidly drawn to stories about the same No, wait There re four things you need to know about me I don t like to work At all I d go so far as to assert that I am entirely abnormal in my contempt for it A sort of cynical pragmatism colors my approach to adult life and all its attendant cares I think of myself as seeking out a sort of hedonistic equilibrium whereby I maximize the amount of money I earn while doing the least amount of work And to that end, I am happy to report, I have been largely successful Why am I sharing all this Because, taken in total, it shows that I would make a very poor excuse of a whaleman in this, our present age, let alone the early 19th century Sure, it s altogether speculative to take a modern fellow like myself and plant him in an earlier time What if I d been raised in a whaling family A whaling tradition Bosh.Trust me in this I was raised in a working class family and it didn t take me long to understand what work does to you it takes your best years, covering them in spoonfuls of regret little by little until you realize too late all the money in the world can t buy back what you could ve done, what you could ve been Why do we American inheritors of the Nantucket Quaker whaling business model always prove so stressed out whenever the United Nations releases its latest sociological metrics Because we spend all our time away from our friends and families, doing stuff we don t like, so we can buy stuff we don t need.No Leisure is the truest wealth Me I would ve sought out some petty job, made merry in my off hours and, hopefully, have been literate enough to enjoy some letter writing and the occasional book Fine, you say What s this got to do with Nathaniel Philbrick s book Well It means all you overachieving types would ve been on that doomed ship while I sat comfortably on terra firma You should be happy about that, at least Consider some of the aforementioned details about me I m obviously prone to psychological imbalance I surely would have cannibalized you had we found ourselves in the dire circumstances of the crew of the Essex, adrift for over three months in the South Pacific And my probability of success would ve been than fair I stand 6 4 tall, have pointy eye teeth, and a trailer park adolescence mean streak True, I am near sighted, but this would only be a minor inconvenience since I would only have to track you around a twenty foot long boat Where are all your Goodreads votes now, fancy pants

  3. says:

    I have never, ever, in my LIFE, met a nonfiction book I was unable to put down before This may be because I am stupid, but I like to think it s because I m interested in the details Most nonfiction I ve encountered is either written by a Someone who experienced something interesting, but who can t write about it in an interesting way, orb Someone who perhaps usually writes about things in an interesting way, but who wasn t able to experience the critical subject firsthand.Philbrick bridges the critical gap What did the water look like when the 80 ton whale barreled toward the ship What does it feel like to starve thirst to death What happens to your eyelids What did Captain Pollard shout when his cousin s lot was drawn Philbrick may not have been there in the whaleboats, but he knows so much about his topic, he may as well have been The notes and select bibliography themselves take up another 50 or so pages, most of them primary sources What s really impressive to me about all of the research Philbrick did, is how, through the overwhelming web of whaling and Nantucket and cannibalism that must have become his mind, he maintained a grip on what would interest his audience Just as you begin to ask a question, he answers it Just as you come to a realization wow, so the whales social lives were structured a lot like the Nantucketers he articulates it of course, better than you had, and often utilizing the words predator and prey Masterful.

  4. says:

    Best piece of non fiction I ve read in years I know it s a clich but you can t make this stuff up In 1819, a whaling ship is rammed by a sperm whale, not once but twice and the surviving crew drifts for 90 days in three tiny boats, Captain Bligh s 48 day ordeal pales in comparison They eventually turned to cannibalism which call me weird I didn t have a problem with A card carrying organ donor I figure I m dead anyway eat me When it came down to drawing lots though, that pushed my buttons Well researched but never dry a nail biter that reads like fiction Delivered what I was expecting, a tragic tale that happens to be one of the greatest true stories ever told and so much The background on Nantucket well done, exploring the religious influence of Quakerism, how with the men gone for years at a time it was virtually run by women Philbrick s handling of the moral ethical dilemmas these men struggled with was beautiful, the inclusion of the Melville Captain George Pollard connection icing on the cake.Cons Maybe the characterizations could have been stronger, I wasn t all that sympathetic to their plight but that s probably not fair, I was routing for the whales I did feel bad for them when they were later set upon by killer whales though, I mean enough already being attacked by a 80 ft sperm whale wasn t enough This city girl worked for a couple of summers on a 35 foot Gillnetter Trust me, being in a small boat out in the middle of the Pacific surrounded by a pod of killer whales they like salmon too is intimidating friggin terrifying Warning Animal lovers will find the description of whale slaughter harsh their butchering aptly described At night the deck of the Essex looked like something out of Dante s Inferno As is the inhumane treatment of the giant tortoises they harvested from the Galapagos Islands heart breaking.The Movie Ron Howard s has begun film production comes out in 2014

  5. says:

    This review is a Chris Hemsworth free zone Yes, he was in the crappy film version of this book No, I won t use any pics in my review.Heh There once was a man from Nantucket,Who was so big he could The island of Nantucket has loads to answer for beyond smutty limericks About 200 years ago, they were at the very pinnacle of the whale slaughtering business.Top of the world, indeed.The Nantucket whalers were about due for a cosmic bitch slap, hence the events depicted in this book Avast ye, Captain Karma Whaling vessel goes a sailin for whale oil they almost get capsized in a storm, but lose a few whaling boats, superstitious crew want to head to nearest Caribbean port and do some drinkin and whorin , yet they sail on the crew wipes out some indigenous island species and set fire to another island for kicks the Essex gets sunk by a roid rage whale the crew is forced to abandon ship and against the better judgement of the spineless captain set sail in the smaller whale boats for South America food runs out fast and it s time to put the other red meat on the menu No lobster bibs here I don t know what the rest of Goodreaders think, but I d rather start gnawing on the boat or a sail rather than eat the coxswain..Well maybe Is that butter Hello, sailor You can call me, Ishmael.The Nantucket legacy of shame goes beyond what s presented here Herman Melville decided to base Moby Dick on the pre cannibal events, so you are well within your rights to blame Nantucket for having to have sat through this book in Literature class and then have to come up with some sort of class project to illustrate points from the book A scratch and sniff diorama depicting the whaling industry.Thar she blows A papier mache whale complete with fizzy heh stuff coming out of Moby s blow hole heh and heh An interpretive dance showing Ahab s final confrontation with Moby complete with sparkly ribbons and such.And of course there s the essay questions Moby Dick A tale of penis envy or a rollicking sea adventure or an object lesson in anger management Pick one Make sure you give specific answers from the text 1500 words or Herman Melville Freud called him a Sexually Frustrated Author and a whiny baby Make sure you give specific examples from the text 1000 words or Captain Ahab, Is that a harpoon in your pocket or are you just happy to see me If Moby Dick could talk, what would he say to Captain Ahab Make sure you give specific examples from the text 500 words or less.What I really thought of this book or a blurb that Goodreads can cut out and paste on History comes alive in this fascinating, in depth, briskly paced portrait of the Nantucket whaling industry and the horrific tragedy of the Essex.It was a fine book until Philbrick chose to use the last chapter as way to serve up the irony of modern day Nantucket with a side of honey butter, fries, tartar sauce and a lemon wedge.Nice detective work, Caped Crusader Now go and change your soiled Bat undies.Buddy read with The Trish and, hopefully, as a way to apologize for the A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur s Court buddy read fiasco, Holly.

  6. says:

    A phenomenal telling of the disaster at sea, that spurred Herman Melville to write Moby Dick,In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick is exceptional Philbrick takes us inside the tragedy with painstaking care and newly discovered research He describes hour to hour what happened on the ill fated voyage This is my favorite type of historical writing It never feels stodgy or stilted You feel like you are there suffering along with the crew Ultimately, it is a tale of the optimism of the human spirit and our ability to overcome heinous circumstances.

  7. says:

    This book was a fantastic tale, the facts of which were an inspiration to Melville who met the surviving captain years later The ship Essex headed to whaling groups in as Phlibrick excellently describes as the most desolate spot on Earth a thousand miles off the coast of Chile in the Pacific Beset by bad luck, the boat is stuck for weeks in the doldrums with no wind, struck by an unhappy but not white whale which founders the boat, and then struggle mostly unsuccessfully to survive with almost no food or water and almost no possible escape It is a tale of human strength and desperation and highly readable I read it before my third reading of Moby Dick and it was a fantastic background read That being said, it is also an exciting standalone read.

  8. says:

    It was a tale of a whale man s worst nightmare of being left in a boat far from land with nothing left to eat or drink and perhaps worst of allof a whale with the vindictiveness and guile of a man

    This deadly true story of the 1820 85 long, 80 ton whale attack on the Essex was not exactly what I expected, but oh so much It begins with background of Captain and crew, the unimaginable time spent away from home and how their wives coped in their absence often resorting to use of laudanum, opium and a plaster penis ouch

    Anyway, a tragedy, that could have been avoided, takes survival to its ultimate limits For as long as men had been sailing the world s oceans, famished sailors had been sustaining themselves on the remains of dead shipmates as cannibalism is, for the most part, humanely described within this narrative.

    While graphically vivid, IN THE HEART OF THE SEA turned out to be an exceptionally informative history lesson for me with an epilogue from Nathaniel Philbrick that says it all..

    The Essex disaster is not a tale of adventure It is a tragedy that happens to be one of the greatest true stories ever told

    MOBY DICK 1851 Now a must read I hope

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  10. says:

    MOBY DICK is one of my favorite books, so I m ashamed that it took me so long to read IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, the inspiration for Melville s classic and the true tale of the Essex s sinking by an angry sperm whale I m a sucker for historical nonfiction, especially when it concerns an event I have a little preexisting knowledge of That said, never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that the great American novel was based on a tale of such brutal survival and sheer terror Nathaniel Philbrick does an incredible job of bringing the story of the Essex s crew to life with liveliness and exquisite detail Every consideration and moment of exhaustion, every nook and cranny of the ship and its contents, every emotion is fully felt through the author s precise research IN THE HEART OF THE SEA is a book about the bold arrogance of man in early America, of our young nation s obsession with wealth and prominence, and of our unencumbered search for things farther, dangerous, and a boldness of spirit that seems lost to time The suffering endured by these whaling men of the sea is only matched by the sheer cruelty they inflicted upon the gentle giants below the waves that is, until one ornery whale decided to fight back, and in turn, set forth the events that would forever change the island of Nantucket and inspired a future novel that would come to be known as one of literature s greatest triumphs A must read for fans of MOBY DICK, adventures on the early seas, and of nature s wrath and man s singular mixture of egotism and bravery.

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