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Heart of the sea: Le origini di Moby Dick

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Novembre 1820. Dopo aver doppiato Capo Horn, la baleniera Essex si spinge al largo del Pacifico verso rotte inesplorate. D’un tratto, la vedetta annuncia la vista di un branco di balene. Il capitano Pollard fa calare le lance, comincia l’inseguimento. Un gigantesco capodoglio passa sorprendentemente al contrattacco e si scaglia contro la baleniera. Poi, un altro colpo, e l Novembre 1820. Dopo aver doppiato Capo Horn, la baleniera Essex si spinge al largo del Pacifico verso rotte inesplorate. D’un tratto, la vedetta annuncia la vista di un branco di balene. Il capitano Pollard fa calare le lance, comincia l’inseguimento. Un gigantesco capodoglio passa sorprendentemente al contrattacco e si scaglia contro la baleniera. Poi, un altro colpo, e la nave cola a picco. È l’inizio di una terribile odissea, 78 giorni nelle acque dell’oceano segnati da fame, disidratazione, follia, cannibalismo, attacchi da parte di squali e di un’altra balena. Il resoconto di uno degli otto superstiti, Owen Chase, sconvolse il pubblico ottocentesco, tra cui il grande romanziere Herman Melville, che ne trasse ispirazione per Moby Dick. Per narrare questa straordinaria e terribile epopea, Nathaniel Philbrick non ha utilizzato come fonte solo il diario di Chase, ma ha riportato alla luce altre testimonianze inedite e soprattutto ha ricostruito un mondo affascinante: la cittadina di Nantucket e la sua élite quacchera, lo sviluppo di nuove tecnologie e gli ambiziosi progetti imprenditoriali, la vita dei balenieri, le abitudini delle loro prede… La durissima lotta degli uomini contro il vento e le onde, il rapporto con la morte sempre in agguato, il sottile filo della sopravvivenza cui si aggrappano i naufraghi offrono così un’avvincente parabola sul destino umano: il Dio in cui credono i marinai li porta nel mare inquieto e li rende signori del creato e dei suoi abitanti, ma può anche punire l’orgoglio dell’uomo, facendolo sprofondare negli abissi o costringendolo a cibarsi della carne dei suoi simili. Da questo libro è stato tratto il film omonimo diretto da Ron Howard.

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Novembre 1820. Dopo aver doppiato Capo Horn, la baleniera Essex si spinge al largo del Pacifico verso rotte inesplorate. D’un tratto, la vedetta annuncia la vista di un branco di balene. Il capitano Pollard fa calare le lance, comincia l’inseguimento. Un gigantesco capodoglio passa sorprendentemente al contrattacco e si scaglia contro la baleniera. Poi, un altro colpo, e l Novembre 1820. Dopo aver doppiato Capo Horn, la baleniera Essex si spinge al largo del Pacifico verso rotte inesplorate. D’un tratto, la vedetta annuncia la vista di un branco di balene. Il capitano Pollard fa calare le lance, comincia l’inseguimento. Un gigantesco capodoglio passa sorprendentemente al contrattacco e si scaglia contro la baleniera. Poi, un altro colpo, e la nave cola a picco. È l’inizio di una terribile odissea, 78 giorni nelle acque dell’oceano segnati da fame, disidratazione, follia, cannibalismo, attacchi da parte di squali e di un’altra balena. Il resoconto di uno degli otto superstiti, Owen Chase, sconvolse il pubblico ottocentesco, tra cui il grande romanziere Herman Melville, che ne trasse ispirazione per Moby Dick. Per narrare questa straordinaria e terribile epopea, Nathaniel Philbrick non ha utilizzato come fonte solo il diario di Chase, ma ha riportato alla luce altre testimonianze inedite e soprattutto ha ricostruito un mondo affascinante: la cittadina di Nantucket e la sua élite quacchera, lo sviluppo di nuove tecnologie e gli ambiziosi progetti imprenditoriali, la vita dei balenieri, le abitudini delle loro prede… La durissima lotta degli uomini contro il vento e le onde, il rapporto con la morte sempre in agguato, il sottile filo della sopravvivenza cui si aggrappano i naufraghi offrono così un’avvincente parabola sul destino umano: il Dio in cui credono i marinai li porta nel mare inquieto e li rende signori del creato e dei suoi abitanti, ma può anche punire l’orgoglio dell’uomo, facendolo sprofondare negli abissi o costringendolo a cibarsi della carne dei suoi simili. Da questo libro è stato tratto il film omonimo diretto da Ron Howard.

30 review for Heart of the sea: Le origini di Moby Dick

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”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 ”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 looks...you guessed it...like 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, more 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 anymore. 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 more 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 more 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.’” Flesh Blood Bone Marrow 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 more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 5 out of 5

    Esteban del Mal

    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 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 more 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. 5 out of 5

    Adrianne Mathiowetz

    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, or b.) Someone who perhaps usually writes about things in an interesting way, but who wasn't able to experience the critical subject firsthand. Philbrick bridges 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, or b.) 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. 4 out of 5

    Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh

    Best piece of non-fiction I’ve read in years – I know it’s a cliché 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 butto Best piece of non-fiction I’ve read in years – I know it’s a cliché 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 more. 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. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    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, Capta 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 more 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 more. “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 Amazon 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. 5 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    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 wit 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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    "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 all......of 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 more. 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 l "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 all......of 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 more. 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)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Rey

    OMG THIS IS BECOMING A MOVIE OMG OMG OMG I AM SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW

  9. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    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 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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    WAY more exciting than I expected! Nathaniel Philbrick knows how to resurrect history into a living, breathing present, a present filled with tension and full-immersion. If you have any interest in whaling, the age of sail, and shipwrecks, you'll not do better than In the Heart of the Sea. It's very much like the non-fiction version of Moby Dick, made all the more intense for being the real deal. In fact, the historic event depicted in this book is the basis for Melville's story. Philbrick gives WAY more exciting than I expected! Nathaniel Philbrick knows how to resurrect history into a living, breathing present, a present filled with tension and full-immersion. If you have any interest in whaling, the age of sail, and shipwrecks, you'll not do better than In the Heart of the Sea. It's very much like the non-fiction version of Moby Dick, made all the more intense for being the real deal. In fact, the historic event depicted in this book is the basis for Melville's story. Philbrick gives you many of the same whale facts as appear in Moby Dick but in a smaller, more manageable amount. Because this is non-fiction you expect facts and dates and text booky et ceteras. They don't sneak up on you like they do in Moby Dick, where readers joyously enjoying a romping whale of a tale are suddenly stove in and sunk by a lengthy treatise on whale and whaling facts. Also, Philbrick just knows how to entertain. I even enjoyed his book on the Pilgrims...THE PILGRIMS, for the love of god! Even dull history comes alive in his hands. Frankly I'd rather read In the Heart... again a half dozen more times than read Melville's mammoth once more. NOTE ON THE MOVIE VERSION Little Opie from Mayberry directed the movie version of this book and did a fair job. Thor and Catelyn Stark are in it and they're all right. Actually, there's a ton of familiar faces in this one. Anyhow, the movie stays mostly faithful to the book and the true events as they happened. A few tweaks were made, no doubt for dramatic effect. Some of the actors' "Boston" accents are most successful than others. But honestly, I just went to see it because I was in the mood for a good, solid adventure flick. That it's based on a true story is always a plus. All the same, I'd stick with the book. Or, if you want to get all the facts straight (as straight as recorded history can provide) after seeing the movie, you should definitely give Philbrick's book a read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michael Ferro

    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 P 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, more 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.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This book was so engrossing that I felt as if I had worked on a whaling ship and had survived a disaster at sea. In 1820, the whaleship Essex was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when a massive whale rammed the ship not once, but twice, sinking it. The crew had to scramble for provisions and escaped into three boats. They set sail for South America, which was nearly 3,000 miles away. They soon ran out of fresh water and food, and eventually resorted to cannibalism. Only eight men out of 20 sur This book was so engrossing that I felt as if I had worked on a whaling ship and had survived a disaster at sea. In 1820, the whaleship Essex was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when a massive whale rammed the ship not once, but twice, sinking it. The crew had to scramble for provisions and escaped into three boats. They set sail for South America, which was nearly 3,000 miles away. They soon ran out of fresh water and food, and eventually resorted to cannibalism. Only eight men out of 20 survived. This tragedy was so famous in the 1800s that it inspired Herman Mellvile's novel Moby Dick. Nathaniel Philbrick is a skilled writer of history, weaving together the details of the disaster and providing context to both the whaling industry in the 19th century and the island of Nantucket, which was considered home to most of the crew. Philbrick also considers the psychology and emotions of Captain George Pollard, First Mate Owen Chase, Cabin Boy Thomas Nickerson and of other crew members. The leadership style of Pollard is especially interesting; Philbrick compares him to other captains and explorers and wonders if some lives could have been saved if Pollard had been more authoritarian. One of the details that is fascinating is that Pollard and the crew decided to try to reach South America, when they knew they were closer to several islands. They had heard legends about cannibals on the islands, and were afraid to go there: "Only a Nantucketer in November 1820 possessed the necessary combination of arrogance, ignorance and xenophobia to shun a beckoning (albeit unknown) island and choose instead an open-sea voyage of several thousand miles." The book includes several pictures of what the Essex looked like, including a sketch from one of the survivors. Even though it was just a drawing, it was chilling to see a giant whale take aim at a ship. There are also several maps, including one featuring the entire voyage of the Essex: It left from Nantucket island in New England, sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, then all the way down South America, around Cape Horn, then up the western coast of South America, reaching the Equator and then heading west, deep into the Pacific Ocean. The sheer distance and magnitude of the journey boggles the mind. Nowadays we get grouchy if our Internet speed is too slow, or if our airplane flight is delayed a few hours because of weather. Reading about the patience, planning and fortitude required to survive such a journey -- even without the shipwreck -- is truly astounding. Finally, I'd like to thank my fellow Goodreaders for recommending such an incredible work of nonfiction. This is what I love about this site: I doubt I would have read this if I hadn't seen several rave reviews from you fine folks. Now I'm hooked on Philbrick and want to read all of his books.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    Buddy-read with Jeff-fah-fah and Holly! Guys, it was awesome! For anyone not knowing: this is a true story. The Essex, a ship full of whalers, ventures into the Pacific to kill a lot of animals, usually in a very horrific way, and the men get what they've got coming when a male sperm whale attacks and sinks the ship. The story even inspired Herman Melville, the famous writer of Moby Dick, who met the son of Owen Chase (the first mate on the Essex). This book presents a detailed account of the life Buddy-read with Jeff-fah-fah and Holly! Guys, it was awesome! For anyone not knowing: this is a true story. The Essex, a ship full of whalers, ventures into the Pacific to kill a lot of animals, usually in a very horrific way, and the men get what they've got coming when a male sperm whale attacks and sinks the ship. The story even inspired Herman Melville, the famous writer of Moby Dick, who met the son of Owen Chase (the first mate on the Essex). This book presents a detailed account of the life of a whaler from Nantucket, the culture on the island and how it changed throughout the years, the life on board of a whaleship, the gruesome practice of killing not just whales but also other animals such as tortoises, and what happened after the attack of the sperm whale that sank the Essex. What I liked very much was that the author went to great lengths to collect all the available accounts and combined them. The main source was cabin boy Thomas Nickerson's account, but Owen Chase was quoted often as well and many other details were included after the accounts of Captain Pollard and the other survivors in order to give, as best as possible so many years later, a 360° view on what happened. The author even amended the book with notes on each chapter. Interesting were also the scientific details the author included, like the psychology of survival (important to showcase the bad effects of the captain's inactions), the biological effects of starvation and dehydration (by even giving an account of some experiments from 1945) as well as the history of Nantucket. Where I disagree with the author is that the men were victims of circumstance and made the best of it. Because the truth is that they deserved every stinking horrific bit of this voyage. Yes, they had to eat their dead companions (even killing one actively to eat him), but after reading of how they killed the whales, how they starved tortoises to death and were personally responsible for the eradication of an entire tortoise species on a Galápagos islands, I just couldn't feel sorry for them. This is the route the three little whaleboats took after the wahleship sank and despite hating the people and actually enjoying their suffering, it is impressive how much and how long they survived. Then again, it would have been so much easier if they hadn't been so stupid (yes, a lot of the horrible things that happened to the crew could have been avoided). P.S.: The irony of the movie is that while the focus of this book is Nickerson's narration and the movie is supposed to be the adaptation of this book, the focus of the movie is Chase's account (naturally, painting himself in a very favourable light). P.P.S.: I REALLY disliked Owen Chase. I mean, apart from everything related to his character at the beginning of the ship's voyage and the way he put himself in a favourable light when writing down his account of the events, the way he got married then left then lost his wife then re-married immediately then left again then lost this wife too then remarried immediately again (this was repeated a couple of times) ... even if it was his way of coping with what had happened, this was despicable. And he fared much better than Pollard (at least career-wise)! Anyway, a lively and informative narration of a true event that inspired a lot of people, meticulously researched and written in a very nice way.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aldi

    Hang on. So the crew of the Essex (quite apart from their whole whale-killing society being an early contributor to majorly endangering the species as a whole): -go on one of their epic whale-killing journeys; -slaughter a bunch of whales; -capture, abuse and slaughter a huge bunch of Galapagos tortoises; -set fire to an entire Galapagos island for a fucking lark; -get COMPLETELY UNFAIRLY, UNPROVOKEDLY AND WITH MALICIOUS INTENT attacked by a sperm whale (I mean, how very DARE that fucker?) so their s Hang on. So the crew of the Essex (quite apart from their whole whale-killing society being an early contributor to majorly endangering the species as a whole): -go on one of their epic whale-killing journeys; -slaughter a bunch of whales; -capture, abuse and slaughter a huge bunch of Galapagos tortoises; -set fire to an entire Galapagos island for a fucking lark; -get COMPLETELY UNFAIRLY, UNPROVOKEDLY AND WITH MALICIOUS INTENT attacked by a sperm whale (I mean, how very DARE that fucker?) so their ship sinks; -proceed to aimlessly drift around the Pacific in three little boats for three months; -manage through sheer ignorance and bad management to sail in the complete opposite direction from any number of islands that would have comfortably rescued them with no fuss at all; -instead land on some barren rock that they eat bare of what few birds and crabs it has within about 3 days; -then AGAIN proceed to sail in the completely wrong fucking direction because they're irrationally scared that more attainable islands might contain cannibals; -then predictably run out of food and, instead of having to deal with completely hypothetical cannibals on some friendly island, turn into VERY FUCKING LITERAL CANNIBALS in their tiny boats; -by not at all suspicious coincidence eat all the black guys first; -the horribly incompetent captain ends up having his 17-year-old cousin shot and eaten (awkward homecoming, that: "Hey Nancy, so the good news is I'm alive!" -"Uhm, where's my teenage son that I entrusted specifically to your care?" -"Yeah well, you know how they say the dead live on inside us...?"); -then, once they've been whittled down by their own idiocy to one handful of pathetic morons, get rescued by sheer dumb luck; ...and we're thrilled and amazed at this brave feat of survival and human endurance HOW? Why? Really? Because I'm all Team Whale here. The book was entertaining, though.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Candi

    This was a fascinating and very readable true account of the whaleship Essex and its crew which left Nantucket in 1820 only to meet with disaster fifteen months later in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. I have been interested in learning more about this tragedy for some time, but honestly didn't expect to become so absorbed in this book! Having very little knowledge of the whaling industry and maritime travel in general, I was nevertheless easily able to follow the story thanks to the tale This was a fascinating and very readable true account of the whaleship Essex and its crew which left Nantucket in 1820 only to meet with disaster fifteen months later in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. I have been interested in learning more about this tragedy for some time, but honestly didn't expect to become so absorbed in this book! Having very little knowledge of the whaling industry and maritime travel in general, I was nevertheless easily able to follow the story thanks to the talent of Nathaniel Philbrick. Providing the reader with a wealth of information, Philbrick fills in gaps of knowledge in a way that is compelling rather than mundane. The background of the Nantucketers and Quakerism, the historical details of the whaling ships, the hierarchy of the ship's crewmen, the particulars of sailing, the effects of starvation and dehydration, and even superstition are brought to light as a result of the author's extensive research. The relationships between the captain, the first mate and the rest of the crew and the characteristics of these whalers seem to reflect an intriguing culture of its own in the world of whaling. I was amazed by some of the poor decisions made by this crew throughout their journey, even prior to their ship being rammed by the massive sperm whale. The level of violence involved in actually killing and processing a whale was astounding considering the extremely pious nature of these men; but as Philbrick notes: "Nantucketers saw no contradiction between their livelihood and their religion. God Himself had granted them dominion over the fishes and the sea." At the same time, this spiritual devotion must also have given these men strength during their days at sea while they struggled to survive thousands of miles from the shores they sought for their salvation. The human survival element of this book makes it a page-turner and is quite gripping and at times even terrifying and disturbing. This is indeed a well-written and brilliantly researched book which I recommend to anyone interested in tales of survival. After learning that this true story of the Essex and the monstrous whale that caused her demise are the inspirations behind Herman Melville's writing, I have now renewed my desire to re-read that once-formidable book Moby Dick! 4 stars

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    IMPORTANT UPDATE: The great reader in the sky has answered my prayers and made a movie based on this story - starring Chris Hemsworth - so I already count one ironclad reason to watch this. The trailer states that the Essex goes beyond the known world, which no it didn't, but I'm also fairly sure that Owen Chase's jaw wasn't nearly as square as Hemsworth's, so I'm willing to allow poetic license. Also, I may root for the whale. The first trailer is here. ---- This was SO gruesome and weirdly gripp IMPORTANT UPDATE: The great reader in the sky has answered my prayers and made a movie based on this story - starring Chris Hemsworth - so I already count one ironclad reason to watch this. The trailer states that the Essex goes beyond the known world, which no it didn't, but I'm also fairly sure that Owen Chase's jaw wasn't nearly as square as Hemsworth's, so I'm willing to allow poetic license. Also, I may root for the whale. The first trailer is here. ---- This was SO gruesome and weirdly gripping. I mean, it's a nonfiction book about whaling - how interesting can it be? Turns out: REALLY INTERESTING. Even before you reach the cannibalism (!), the descriptions of what whaling entails are fascinating. You could not pay me 32 million dollars to throw a harpoon at an enraged whale on the open ocean in a tiny whaleboat, and you certainly could not pay me $32 in 1820s money to do so. Isn't it crazy that the Nantucket whaleships' routine journey was through the Atlantic, around Cape Horn, and into the Pacific Ocean?? In an 1820s-era ship made out of wood, with captains (cough Pollard cough) who couldn't even perform lunar navigation? WTF is this voyage map? Here are some things you can learn from the tragedy of the whaleship Essex: · Don't sign on to a whaleship. It doesn't even pay that well anymore, now that we have natural gas and stuff. · Moby-Dick sounds like an engaging book that I want to read right away. If this is not a desirable side effect for you, I would suggest skipping this book entirely. · Whalers used to pick up Galapagos tortoises by the dozens, stick them in the holds of their ships, neglect to feed them or give them anything to drink, and wander downstairs whenever they wanted some fresh meat. ??? · Starvation and dehydration are miserable ways to die, right up until the VERY end of your life. The psychological and physiological effects of starvation take months (perhaps years) to heal. And, once you start to eat other people, you're effectively part of a "modern feral society," one in which you begin an amoral fight for survival. Your small group will tear itself apart (heh), and there is no going back. · The first and second mates of the Essex convinced the captain they shouldn't sail for the Society Islands - where there might be cannibals - but instead back towards the coast of South America, which is more than an additional thousand nautical miles. Philbrick mentions that the Nantucketers are a curious mixture of arrogance, ignorance, and xenophobia. This becomes even more obvious when you find out that they ate all the black sailors first. · Herman Melville served on a whaling ship with Owen Chase's son, who told him about his father's story and gave him Owen's manuscript to read. Ralph Waldo Emerson mentions in his diary, years before Moby-Dick, the tale of a whaler obsessed with tracking down the whale that ruined his ship. It's possible that could be Owen Chase. I tore through this book and I'm still unsettled by it. Maritime history has a long, dark past of cannibalism and shipwreck that you don't really think about. That past becomes obvious once you begin thinking about the realities of life - and death - at sea. This book manages to pack a lot into ~250 pages: the rise and fall of Nantucket, the incredible journeys that whaleships routinely sailed, and what it's like to live in desperation. It's all fascinating, and I had no idea that Moby-Dick was rooted in an event that most nineteenth century Americans would have known about.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

    If I had to come up with a torturous way to die, I would immediately start talking about this book. Holy mackerel, how much tragedy can one group of people endure? This story was an atmospheric and truly terrifying account of an ordeal that defies comprehension. I have had a visceral reaction throughout this one. It's a shock to the system. My muscles are cramped from tension, my heart is pounding, and I am overcome with guilt (and gratitude) for every glass of water I drink. A wonderful histori If I had to come up with a torturous way to die, I would immediately start talking about this book. Holy mackerel, how much tragedy can one group of people endure? This story was an atmospheric and truly terrifying account of an ordeal that defies comprehension. I have had a visceral reaction throughout this one. It's a shock to the system. My muscles are cramped from tension, my heart is pounding, and I am overcome with guilt (and gratitude) for every glass of water I drink. A wonderful historic account of the whaling industry, the harsh life of a whale man, and life on island...and of course, the whale attack and the unforgiving fight for survival. A harrowing tale. God Bless their souls. 4 stars

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    The whaleship Essex, 15 months into an expected journey of three years, is head-butted and sunk by a sperm whale, an unprecedented and bizarre attack that inspired Herman Melville's classic "Moby Dick." Left at a point in the Pacific that could not be further from land, the twenty crewmembers board three leaky whaleboats with limited food and freshwater. While south Pacific islands to west are more easily reached via the prevailing winds, Captain George Pollard yields to the officers' fears of The whaleship Essex, 15 months into an expected journey of three years, is head-butted and sunk by a sperm whale, an unprecedented and bizarre attack that inspired Herman Melville's classic "Moby Dick." Left at a point in the Pacific that could not be further from land, the twenty crewmembers board three leaky whaleboats with limited food and freshwater. While south Pacific islands to west are more easily reached via the prevailing winds, Captain George Pollard yields to the officers' fears of cannibalistic natives and makes the ill fated decision to tack easterly for the west coast of South America. Some ninety days of searing sun and pounding gales later, the battered, ulcerated, and skeletal survivors miraculously reach a precarious safety. There is a natural fascination with tales of survival against incredible odds - an especially macabre fascination when survival is dependant on using fellow your travelers for sustenance. Author Philbrick plays this hand well, resisting sensationalism and treating a sensitive and highly emotional topic with dignity and empathy for both the survivors as well as their victims. In prose that is sparse and authoritative, Philbrick spices his story with topics as far ranging as sperm whale anatomy and the physiology and psychology of starvation and dehydration. He succeeds in capturing that rare combination of historical fact that is educational while at the same time as riveting as the best pop thriller. "In the Heart of the Sea" is a brutal and bloody tutorial of the industry that was the backbone of the US economy, and the risks and sacrifices made by the men who farmed the floating oil fields of the oceans - and of the women they left behind. In short, a gripping slice of American history well researched and compassionately told - a worthy recipient of a National Book Award that shouldn't be missed.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    “In the Heart of the Sea” is my first time reading the work of Nathaniel Philbrick. It will not be my last. This is an excellent and engaging text, and like the best nonfiction the reader feels the immediacy and importance of the events described therein. The book follows the last voyage of the Nantucket whaleship “Essex” and the trek for survival made by the ship’s crew. It is an adventure tale, interspersed with lessons on everything from the behavior of sperm whales, the intricacies of sailing “In the Heart of the Sea” is my first time reading the work of Nathaniel Philbrick. It will not be my last. This is an excellent and engaging text, and like the best nonfiction the reader feels the immediacy and importance of the events described therein. The book follows the last voyage of the Nantucket whaleship “Essex” and the trek for survival made by the ship’s crew. It is an adventure tale, interspersed with lessons on everything from the behavior of sperm whales, the intricacies of sailing, and the way dehydration affects the human body. Philbrick does an outstanding job digressing from his narrative when he feels a further explanation will benefit his reader. And his instincts are correct. Besides the main narrative about the sinking of the “Essex”, the island of Nantucket and its inhabitants and culture are a significant aspect of the book. Philbrick clearly demonstrates how you cannot fully examine the one without understanding the other. In short, “In the Heart of the Sea” is a gripping and informative read in the vein of the best narrative nonfiction. I enjoyed it immensely. Does anything else really matter?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    One of the most riveting, enlightening, gut-wrenching, macabre, unfathomable, heart-pounding, culture-defining, era-appalling, extremely well-written and fastidiously researched non-fiction books I've read this year. That was a mouthful!!! In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex: So much more than a survival tale or a seafaring story or Nantucket legend or the catalyst for the literary classic: Moby Dick. "The Essex disaster is not a tale of adventure. It is a tragedy that hap One of the most riveting, enlightening, gut-wrenching, macabre, unfathomable, heart-pounding, culture-defining, era-appalling, extremely well-written and fastidiously researched non-fiction books I've read this year. That was a mouthful!!! In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex: So much more than a survival tale or a seafaring story or Nantucket legend or the catalyst for the literary classic: Moby Dick. "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." Within these pages (which you'll be compelled to turn ever-so quickly) there are undercurrents of societal and mariner hierarchies: man against man, man against the sea, man against God's creation, and ultimately, Man against the Creator. There is also an exploratory look at what life was like on the whaling island of Nantucket during the eighteen-hundreds; before, during, and after the Essex tragedy. Talk about PTSD! How could anyone live any type of normal life after such horrors. Thus, be FOREWARNED. Not only are the descriptions of whaling exceptionally gruesome and stomach churning. Cannibalism, though decorously described as best anyone can, nearly sent me hurling!!Weep, oh I did!!! I still shudder thinking about those unfortunate souls - the living and lived upon. Lest I completely scare away the fainthearted, let me stress: the bulk of the story isn't macabre or gruesome. Philbrick utilizes a more history-enriching humanistic approach, really. And he does an amazing job balancing all the various aspects surrounding this tragic event; all without being overly graphic, or padding with hype, or rambling on and on about unrelated subject matter. His writing is crisp, compelling, and concise - yet expounding as necessary for clarification or era/locale/societal enhancement. The movie should be great - if Hollywood doesn't over-sensationalize the macabre. Five - Compelling though Cautionary - Stars

  21. 4 out of 5

    João Carlos

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAv6d... Trailer do filme "No Coração do Mar" - realização de Ron Howard. O meu fascínio por baleias e baleeiros decorre de ter vivido nove meses na Ilha do Pico, no início dos anos 90. As Lajes do Pico, a sul da ilha, foram um dos locais emblemáticos da indústria baleeira, agora apenas consubstanciada numa perspectiva museológica e na actividade lúdica e científica da observação de cetáceos – através do Museu dos Baleeiros e, mais recentemente, do Centro de Artes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAv6d... Trailer do filme "No Coração do Mar" - realização de Ron Howard. O meu fascínio por baleias e baleeiros decorre de ter vivido nove meses na Ilha do Pico, no início dos anos 90. As Lajes do Pico, a sul da ilha, foram um dos locais emblemáticos da indústria baleeira, agora apenas consubstanciada numa perspectiva museológica e na actividade lúdica e científica da observação de cetáceos – através do Museu dos Baleeiros e, mais recentemente, do Centro de Artes e de Ciências do Mar. Museu dos Baleeiros - Lajes do Pico – Ilha do Pico - Açores Centro de Artes e de Ciências do Mar - Lajes do Pico – Ilha do Pico - Açores Em S. Roque do Pico, na zona norte da ilha, foi recuperada uma antiga fábrica da indústria baleeira, originando o magnífico Museu da Indústria Baleeira que exibe inúmera maquinaria e outros apetrechos usados no aproveitamento e na transformação dos cetáceos em óleo e farinha. Museu da Indústria Baleeira - S. Roque do Pico - Ilha do Pico – Açores A prática da caça à baleia nos Açores - condenável ética e ecologicamente – assentava, em vivências ancestrais, usos e costumes que se perpetuavam de geração em geração numa luta titânica e desigual entre os homens, em pequenos botes baleeiros e os enormes cetáceos, com o uso de técnicas arcaicas, numa actividade que se extinguiu em 1987. É no século XVIII com a chegada de navios baleeiros oriundos de New Bedford e de Nantucket que os açorianos aprenderam as técnicas da captura dos cetáceos e dos processos de transformação dos seus subprodutos. Viagem do Essex (de 12 de Agosto de 1819 a 20 de Novembro de 1820) A 12 de Agosto de 1819 o navio baleeiro Essex zarpa da Ilha de Nantucket, Massachusetts, com vinte um tripulantes a bordo, capitaneados por George Pollard, Jr., em direcção ao Oceano Pacífico para a caça à baleia, transpondo o temível Cabo Horn. A 20 de Novembro de 1820 o Essex é abalroado por ”(…) uma baleia – um enorme cachalote, o maior que tinham visto até então -, um macho com cerca de vinte e cinco metros de comprimentos (…).” E que ”Agia de forma estranha.”. Nathaniel Philbrick em ”No Coração do Mar” escreve uma invulgar e uma portentosa narrativa de não-ficção, uma história marítima baseada nos relatos existentes dos intervenientes e numa investigação científica detalhada; originando uma aventura épica, com detalhes fascinantes, que começa com um conjunto heterogéneo de homens, alguns rapazes com pouco mais do que catorze anos de idade, e acaba num empreendimento dominado pelo heroísmo, pela miséria humana, física e moral, sobre a superação dos limites da adversidade; sobre a maldição e a superstição, sobre a solidão, a coragem e a insanidade. Uma história que inspirou Herman Melville a escrever o famoso romance ”Moby Dick”.

  22. 5 out of 5

    J.K. Grice

    I probably can't say anything that hasn't already been said about IN THE HEART OF THE SEA. This was just an amazing account of not only the Essex, but the early days of whaling in the American colonies. Fascinating stuff and also so tragic. I liked the film version very much as well.

  23. 5 out of 5

    RJ

    The mesmerizing story of the 19th century Nantucket whaleboat Essex, sunk after being rammed by a giant sperm whale, its crew afloat in whaleboats in the Pacific for weeks as their limited provisions eventually expire. Philbrick's well-researched account not only synchronizes multiple witness recollections, but provides historical context with regards to the Nantucket community and the 19th century American whaling industry, all in 238 unputdownable pages. And this real-life story was also the i The mesmerizing story of the 19th century Nantucket whaleboat Essex, sunk after being rammed by a giant sperm whale, its crew afloat in whaleboats in the Pacific for weeks as their limited provisions eventually expire. Philbrick's well-researched account not only synchronizes multiple witness recollections, but provides historical context with regards to the Nantucket community and the 19th century American whaling industry, all in 238 unputdownable pages. And this real-life story was also the inspiration for the ultimate whale tale: Moby-Dick. High time to get to sea as soon as you can indeed.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I had a lot of trouble with Moby Dick. Finishing it, I mean. I picked it up and put it back down twice. By the time I finally finished it - a point of honor - I'd probably read 1200 pages of it. About 150 years later, the source material was published. In the Heart of the Sea tells of the whaleship Essex which inspired Melville's opus. In 1819, it left Nantucket and went a'whaling. An enraged sperm whale (is there any other kind?) rammed the ship in the South Pacific. The Essex sunk and its crew I had a lot of trouble with Moby Dick. Finishing it, I mean. I picked it up and put it back down twice. By the time I finally finished it - a point of honor - I'd probably read 1200 pages of it. About 150 years later, the source material was published. In the Heart of the Sea tells of the whaleship Essex which inspired Melville's opus. In 1819, it left Nantucket and went a'whaling. An enraged sperm whale (is there any other kind?) rammed the ship in the South Pacific. The Essex sunk and its crew took to the whale boats and set out for South America. 3,000 miles away. Nathaniel Philbrick is a brisk, lively, informative writer. His prose is engaging and witty. Unlike Melville's Moby Dick, this is a slim, quick read. The book starts in Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, which was a famous whaling port long before it became the part of the most famous dirty limerick of all time. Nantucket was a town of roof dwellers. Nearly every house, its shingles painted red or left to weather into gray, had a roof-mounted platform known as a walk. While its intended use was to facilitate putting out chimney fires with buckets of sand, the walk was also an excellent place to look out to sea with a spyglass, to search for sails of returning ships. Philbrick quickly limns the fascinating history of Nantucket, home to Quakers and whalers and a seafaring tradition. A vicious cycle dominated life in Nantucket: the men were home three months, in between voyages, and were then gone three months, spearing big dumb mammals for their oil. This was a hard life. Not only for the men, who were out getting attacked by sperm whales and cannibalizing each other, but also for the womenfolk, left behind. They were lonely and bored. In good Quaker fashion, many of the women developed opium addictions. Philbrick also notes the fascinating discovery of a six-inch plaster dildo in the chimney of one of the old houses.* *History is the best, isn't it? After learning about shore life, we get right into life aboard ship. Philbrick describes what it took to hunt whale (as opposed to hunting manatee, which requires different techniques): [T:]he mate or captain stood at the steering oar in the stern of the whaleboat while the boatsteerer manned the forward-most, or harpooner's oar. Aft of the boatsteerer was the bow oarsman, usually the most experienced foremast hand in the boat. Once the whale had been harpooned, it was his job to lead the crew in pulling in the whale line. Next was the midships oarsman, who worked the longest and heaviest of the lateral oars - up to eighteen feet long and forty-five pounds. Next was the tub oarsman. He managed the two tubs of whale line. It was his job to wet the line with a small bucketlike container, called a piggin, once the whale was harpooned. This wetting prevented the line from burning from the friction as it ran around the loggerhead, an upright post mounted on the stern of the boat. Aft of the tub oarsman was the after oarsman. He was usually the lightest of the crew, and it was his job to make sure the whale line didn't tangle as it was hauled back into the boat. After reading Philbrick's clean descriptions, I think I actually started to understand Moby Dick. Soon enough, the whale attacks: Chase estimated that the whale was traveling at six knots when it struck the Essex the second time and that the ship was traveling at three knots. To bring the Essex to a complete standstill, the whale, whose mass was roughly a third of the ship's, would have to be moving at more than three times the speed of the ship, at least nine knots. The Essex sank, but unlike the Pequod, which disappeared quickly beneath "the great shroud of the sea" that "rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago," the Essex went down slowly. It gave Captain Pollard and his crew time to offload the ship and stock supplies in the whaleboats. They got hardtack, fresh water, a musket, pistols and gun powder. There were 20 men in three boats. Fearing cannibals (how ironic), the displaced crew of the Essex attempted to row to South America. This was a mistake, which Philbrick places in the lap of Captain George Pollard. Pollard's behavior, after both the knockdown and the whale attack, indicates that he lacked the resolve to overrule his two younger and less experienced officers. In his deference to others, Pollard was conducting himself less like a captain and more like the veteran mate described by the Nantucketer William H. Macy: "[H:]e had no lungs to blow his own trumpet, and sometimes distrusted his own powers, though generally found equal to any emergency after it arose. This want of confidence sometimes led him to hesitate, where a more impulsive or less thoughtful man would act at once." Of course, the great hook in this story, the reason that we really, secretly, actually care this took place, is the cannibalism. At first, the men who died - in a tortuous fashion, dehydrated and starving beneath a blazing sun - were buried at sea. However, with circumstances becoming direr (as though it were possible), lots were drawn. It was young Owen Coffin who was the first to die, "dispatched" by his friend Charles Ramsdell. Odd, for a book this detailed, the scenes of cannibalism are fairly discrete (see Neil Hanson's The Custom of the Sea if you really want to learn about drawing lots and eating your friends). Eventually, 8 of 20 men survived. Five on an island; three on a boat. Philbrick tells their story well. He is a the rare, serious historian (the book had really good notes; very informative, though not pinpointed) that also knows how to write.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*

    Meticulously researched, written in a way that is easy to follow the narrative, and excellently narrated by the ever-reliable Scott Brick. Looking forward to another book by Nathaniel Philbrick! I got sucked into the idea behind this in part, and mainly due to, the imminent release of the film adaptation -- and seeing in the trailer that this is the story which inspired Moby Dick (another classic I have yet to read, but that's another story for another time). Beyond that limited knowledge, I went Meticulously researched, written in a way that is easy to follow the narrative, and excellently narrated by the ever-reliable Scott Brick. Looking forward to another book by Nathaniel Philbrick! I got sucked into the idea behind this in part, and mainly due to, the imminent release of the film adaptation -- and seeing in the trailer that this is the story which inspired Moby Dick (another classic I have yet to read, but that's another story for another time). Beyond that limited knowledge, I went into this blind and it was a stunning account of human survival. It was fascinating to me to learn so much about the people of the time period. The majority of the people in Nantucket had never even SEEN a whale -- and yet these were the creatures supplying them with so much oil to go about their daily lives? The mens' greed and lust for the oil whales gave was palpable in the beginning. Later, their aversion to cannibalism seemed to wear off quickly, although when you're in survival mode, living really is the only thing that matters. Still, I have to cheer for the whale that wrecked their vessel in the Pacific. He saw a threat and he took it out, no mistake. The fact that any of them survived the following ordeal is, I think, a credit to their sheer willpower and a certain amount of luck, by the end. I made a note in one update about how they couldn't catch a break, but then, I don't know that I wanted them to. I wanted them to suffer and get back some of the bad karma they'd been dealing. However intriguing it was to read about their rescue and subsequent lives, I backed the whale all the way.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lewis Weinstein

    A terrific read, based on original documents recovered long after the events described in the book, which took place mostly in 1820. Part of the true story formed the basis for Melville's "Moby Dick." Brave men set out for a 3 year journey to find and kill whales and process the blubber into oil. The owners of the ship and the captain stand to get rich; most of the crew will make barely enough to survive. But on this voyage, after their ship is battered by a huge sperm whale, many do not survive. A terrific read, based on original documents recovered long after the events described in the book, which took place mostly in 1820. Part of the true story formed the basis for Melville's "Moby Dick." Brave men set out for a 3 year journey to find and kill whales and process the blubber into oil. The owners of the ship and the captain stand to get rich; most of the crew will make barely enough to survive. But on this voyage, after their ship is battered by a huge sperm whale, many do not survive. Philbrick's descriptions of what they go through are powerfully rendered, especially when wrong decisions are made that make things much worse than they might have been. It is also interesting to consider that each of the narratives on which this book are based reflects the point of view of the writer, and may not be the precise truth, like all history. Another aspect of the book is the description of Nantucket in the 19th century, which for those who have been there touches some interesting emotions. A wonderful place with some dark undertones.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brendon Schrodinger

    Also on my blog The Periodic Table of Elephants. Any reader who has read 'The Life of Pi' and 'Moby Dick' should be all over this as both works of fiction were inspired by the tragic events of the Essex. The Essex was an American whaling ship that was attacked by a disgruntled sperm whale (well the whalers had attacked it with harpoons) and sunk in the south-western Pacific in 1820. All the crew survive the sinking but they are stranded in the middle of the Pacific, in a region desolate of life, Also on my blog The Periodic Table of Elephants. Any reader who has read 'The Life of Pi' and 'Moby Dick' should be all over this as both works of fiction were inspired by the tragic events of the Essex. The Essex was an American whaling ship that was attacked by a disgruntled sperm whale (well the whalers had attacked it with harpoons) and sunk in the south-western Pacific in 1820. All the crew survive the sinking but they are stranded in the middle of the Pacific, in a region desolate of life, and they seem to want to make it back to civilisation the hardest way possible. Hilarity ensues. That was sarcasm. Nathaniel does a magnificent job in describing the events on the Essex. But what also sets this book apart is his description and history of the whaling industry of Nantucket. The town is dominated by Quakers at the time and it is interesting how that justified this religion with systematic slaughter of animals and bolstered a whole industry around it. For a supposedly peaceful and placid religion, these people were blubberthirsty.I don't know if this is spoilerific (can history have spoilers?) but it also goes on to talk about the aftereffects of the tragedy and how the survivors went on living. But the heart of the story is that of the survival of the sailors. How they relied on each other and how they tried to survive despite all odds. Having read this after years after reading 'The Life of Pi' I feel a bit ripped off. There are so many parallels in the fictional story, and it would have been great to get all the references. A great read that taught me a lot about the whaling industry with a lot about ocean survival. Recommended to all fans of those two fictions I mentioned earlier and would make a great gift for someone going on a cruising holiday.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee." - Moby-Dick I've been wanting to read this book for years. Patiently it sat, right behind me, waiting. I enjoyed Philbrick's Mayflower and Sea of Glory. Given how much I love Moby-Dick, I'm kinda surprised it took me so long (15 years) to read this history of the Essex. Philbrick paces this narrative well. He patches t "Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee." - Moby-Dick I've been wanting to read this book for years. Patiently it sat, right behind me, waiting. I enjoyed Philbrick's Mayflower and Sea of Glory. Given how much I love Moby-Dick, I'm kinda surprised it took me so long (15 years) to read this history of the Essex. Philbrick paces this narrative well. He patches together all the major perspectives. When the story leaves gaps, he dead reckons and is able to fill the story in with similar types of accidents, aggressive whale experiences, sailors, oil, blood, starvation, and -- well -- other episodes of cannibalism. He is able to humanize the captain, the first-mate, and the people of Nantucket (while also giving serious consideration for all the other sailors; those from Nantucket, outlanders, and black sailors too). It was a quick read, and compelling.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Once I was well into this non-fiction record, I could not put it down. The detail and research! The maps, the retained evidence and not the least is the history and onus of Nantucket. Nathaniel Philbrick not only relates all minutia of this chronological multi-year saga of the Essex, but also sets that in the proper setting- like a gem in an elaborate piece of jewelry. The Quaker religion, worldview and how that worked into the patterns of work for whaling! The language itself surrounding itself Once I was well into this non-fiction record, I could not put it down. The detail and research! The maps, the retained evidence and not the least is the history and onus of Nantucket. Nathaniel Philbrick not only relates all minutia of this chronological multi-year saga of the Essex, but also sets that in the proper setting- like a gem in an elaborate piece of jewelry. The Quaker religion, worldview and how that worked into the patterns of work for whaling! The language itself surrounding itself with new words in most particular aspect for action or object for this complex martial occupation. This book taught me much more about the terms for motions, parts of the vessel, hierarchy toward purposes and context for ships than any other I have read. And demonstrates them in graphics, lists, maps, photos. Apart from the voyage maps. It's a lifestyle that meant the men were home for 3 months out of 3 years gone. And that many women were happy about the fact, as well. Much of this book if put into a fiction piece would be deemed strongly unbelievable. That it has happened and has such documentation. And also that Philbrick has here applied this to current scientific criteria, not only about whale species; of sperm, right, blue- but also about homo sapiens original expansions to and within the Pacific. Awesome book. Not only included to depth are the sections upon the discourse of, about and within the sea, but on the land at home, as well. For us "coof". This book will not condemn with judgment- it will relate the factual so you yourself can have "eyes". And most of what you see will not be clean nor will it be pleasant. Every process is completely in each partial piece of progression described. Down to the emotional when it occurs. And the noise, and the smells, and the sounds. Sometimes accompanied by insanity. The process of "trying out" on the deck flats! You aren't going to get this in Moby Dick. This is far superior. Gut-wrenching and macabre, not just a couple of times either. Each of the 20 men are given biography before its over. Not forgetting any of the "after" in this investigation for the roles the survivors played in later years. It is appalling. And it also is daunting to conceive how these men went farther and farther and farther for the liquid "gold". To the point where they had no idea of the islands or lands around them at all. Resulting in not having the facts, but believing the hype- and thus going 3000 plus miles out of their way for "help". What a work is man.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Superb rendering of the Nantucket whaling community and the disaster that befell the Essex in 1821. 1,500 miles off the coast of Chile, it was rammed and sunk by a sperm whale. Eight of 20 men survived the 4,500 mile, 3 month journey to safety in whaleboats. Cannibalism is an uncomfortable part of the story and is thoughfully, not luridly, treated. The story helps elucidate some of what it means to be human, our mastery of amazing feats as a collective and the courage and resourcefulness of indi Superb rendering of the Nantucket whaling community and the disaster that befell the Essex in 1821. 1,500 miles off the coast of Chile, it was rammed and sunk by a sperm whale. Eight of 20 men survived the 4,500 mile, 3 month journey to safety in whaleboats. Cannibalism is an uncomfortable part of the story and is thoughfully, not luridly, treated. The story helps elucidate some of what it means to be human, our mastery of amazing feats as a collective and the courage and resourcefulness of individuals in the face of death. As odious as whaling is for slaughtering intelligent creatures for oil, it is worth noting that at the peak of of 19th century whaling, about 5,000 sperm whales were being harvested a year compared to nearly 30,000 per year with the technology advances in the 20th century. Sperm whales are believed to number in the millions now and are not endangered; right whales obviously never recovered from the whaling industry.

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