Summary: National Book Award, Nonfiction, 2000
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 Essexleft Nantucket for the South Pacific with 20 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 90 days in three tiny whaleboats, succumbing to weather, hunger, and 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 Seais a monumental work of history forever placing the Essex tragedy in the American historical canon…Read more.
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Nathaniel Philbrick: In The Heart of the Sea Audio Book Summary
In The Heart of The Sea, it is a book where clearly the reality surpasses the fiction. It deals with the historical facts of the wreck in the Pacific Ocean of a whaling ship in the year of 1820, that was sunk by the attack of a sperm whale.
Philbrick did extensive research prior to writing the book, which was documented primarily by the writings of the first officer, Owen Chase, and crew member Thomas Nickerson, 14, both crew members.
The author begins with a complete narrative about the experiences of the characters aboard the Essex ship that was a 27-meter whaling boat led by Captain George Pollard. The mission of the expedition was to catch a sperm whale to market its oil. The chronicle also puts us in context of the sociocultural implications of the time.
It also deals with the founding of Nantucket Island, where the crew originated. It is a place where people look for to dedicate themselves to the cattle ranch but the circumstances compel them to find in the sea, with the hunting of whales the way to support their families. The inhabitants of the island are perfecting the techniques of hunting and having more and more sophisticated equipment.
Then he tells us the facts about the sinking. After the incident, the men decide to leave the boat in three boats with little food and water. The crew must fight to survive during the 90 days of their odyssey.
The author achieves an exceptional fidelity to the real facts, so that it is possible to have a close notion of how the story unfolded, but that in the eyes of the reader it seems that a novel of action is being read. Extreme survival with horrifying elements such as the description of the ravages of dehydration in the bodies of men, the aftermath of fatigue and desolation, cannibalism. Likewise, an analysis of the motivations of each member is carried out.
Despite being a work that has a large number of historical data, a vocabulary full of marine terms¸ and long and detailed descriptions; The reading flows impressively with an agile prose. The reader is absorbed in the denouement of the plot hoping to know soon the destiny of the sailors.
As mentioned above, it is a perfectly documented book, but in which the author also performs a remarkable narrative and synthesis work. The criticism put the rod very high comparing it with the work of Herman Melville published in 1851 Moby Dick for both being based on the disaster of the Essex, nevertheless, the unanimous opinions agree that it is an exceptional work.