Jason Koivu'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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Feb 23, 2016

really liked it
bookshelves: history
Read in January, 2008

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.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by B0nnie (new)

B0nnie Moby Dick *is* the non-fiction version...


message 2: by Laima (new) - added it

Laima I picked up this book not long ago. It's moving up in my to read pile.


message 3: by Rob (new)

Rob Excellent book. Philbrick is my favorite non-fiction writer.


Marie This is a great book you have chosen to read. I finished that book it is Great!


message 5: by Jason (new)

Jason read this a while ago and loved it film is good as well reminded me of the old films like Ben hur and stuff like that


Howard I agree that this is a great study of whaling and the people who engaged in it. Philbrick is from the part of the country that gave birth to the whaling industry in the U.S. and he knows the subject well.

However, it is news to me that the book has been adapted for film. But knowing Opie's track record I'm not surprised that it is a good film.


Jason Koivu Howard wrote: "I agree that this is a great study of whaling and the people who engaged in it. Philbrick is from the part of the country that gave birth to the whaling industry in the U.S. and he knows the subjec..."

Yes, most of Philbrick's books have a New England bent to them. I think the one on Custer has been the only deviation so far, but perhaps there are others I'm unaware of.


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