04ZackeryM's Reviews > In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
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Mar 10, 2012

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Read in March, 2012

Well Goodreads, we meet again. Thompson has yet again had me post a book review on here. Well Thompson, wish me luck, and here we go.

I choose the book called In The Heart of The Sea. I choose this book because it was a choice of four diffrent books in Mrs. Brinkerhoff's class for term projects. The reason I choose In The Heart of The Sea, out of those four is because, no it was not the shortest. But it seemed as if the book was a little bit more intresting from all the others. The thought of a ship filled with whale hunter's sorta intrested me.

"The ordeal of the whaleship Essex was an event as mythic in the nineteenth century as the sinking of the Titanic was in the twentieth. In 1819, the Essex left Nantucket for the South Pacific with twenty crew members aboard. In the middle of the South Pacific the ship was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale. The crew drifted for more than ninety days in three tiny whaleboats, succumbing to weather, hunger, disease, and ultimately turning to drastic measures in the fight for survival. Nathaniel Philbrick uses little–known documents-including a long–lost account written by the ship’s cabin boy-and penetrating details about whaling and the Nantucket community to reveal the chilling events surrounding this epic maritime disaster. An intense and mesmerizing read, In the Heart of the Sea is a monumental work of history forever placing the Essex tragedy in the American historical canon." After reading that passage of the book, I said "What the heck!" and picked up the book and finally began to read.

The Essex was an older ship, in command of Captain Pollard. It was his first crew and command. He had a hard time finding enough men to make the three year voyage to the Pacific. Finally getting together a crew, they set sail on August 12, 1819. From the start, bad luck just seemed to fallow them. They almost lost the ship in a storm in the Atlantic, and lost several whaleboats. It took the very inexperinced crew a while to get hang of whaling. But on November 20, 1820, with the ship beginning to fill with oil, they were attacked by a large sperm whale that knocked the ship on its side. When this happened, most of the men were in the whale boats chasing another whale. Seeing their ship sink was a very scary and tragic thing. Rowing back to the ship, they took in all the supplies they could hold and made sails and other supplies for the boats and started for South America.

A lot of the story is about the men’s struggle to survive in the open ocean in three small whaling boats. They were at sea for three months. Of the crew of twenty one, eight survived. It was a small ammount of survival. At first, it was just the dead who died, but in one of the boats, lots were drawn and one sailor who killed to provide food for the rest. The boats never made it to shore. Two were discovered by whaling ships and the third was later found up on the beach, with the skeletons of four ship mates inside. Three other men survived on an island that had little food and water.

The story is a tragedy. Several times in the journey Captain Pollard allowed himself to be bossed around by his younger officers. He had wanted to turn back while still in the Atlantic to secure more whaleboats and to repair the ship, but had been encouraged to go on. The inferior boats would later have many problems. After the sinking of the Essex, Pollard’s instincts told them to try for some islands in the Pacific. But his lower crew members managed to yet again convince him otherwise. The reason the other crew members conviced Captain Pollard is because, they feared cannibals on some of the islands.

In the Heart of the Sea, is not just a story. It's said that it's history. I enjoyed this book somewhat. I gave it three stars. In the Heart of the Sea was just not a book that would pick up on my own. I do not enjoy the feeling of being forced to read a book that I did not put my intrest twords. This book took me just about all term to finish because I did not feel the need to want to read In the Heart of the Sea. But after reading it, I found that it was an ok book. I do recommend it to teens and adults that have the time to read it and have an intrest twords it.
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