Coffeeboss'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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's review
Dec 27, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: history, travel-adventure

Yikes! On its 2-year voyage that left Nantucket in 1819, the whaleship Essex got rammed and sunk by a sperm whale somewhere in the Pacific between the Galapagos and South America. This account became the inspiration for Herman Melville's great (and angry) white whale in Moby Dick. Not only was the event extraordinary because no one had ever recorded a whale deliberately attacking a ship before, but the Essex remained etched in lore because of the horrible aftermath. Let's just say after three months at sea, one of the Essex's smaller remaining whaleboats was finally intercepted by another ship, only to find two gaunt and crazed survivors... plus a huge pile of human bones. Nathaniel Philbrick has created a fascinating account of the tragedy, filling it in from two perspectives, the long-known memoir of the first mate Owen Chase, and the long-lost, recently unearthed account by cabin boy Thomas Nickerson. This is great stuff for fans of literary non-fiction.

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