“With its huge, scarred head halfway out of the water and its tail beating the ocean into a white-water wake more than forty feet across, the whale approached the ship at twice its original speed–at least six knots. With a tremendous cracking and splintering of oak, it struck the ship just beneath the anchor secured at the cat-head on the port bow. . .”
In the Heart of the Sea brings to new life the incredible story of the wreck of the whaleship Essex–an event as mythic in its own century as the Titanic disaster in ours, and the inspiration for the climax of Moby-Dick. In a harrowing page-turner, Nathaniel Philbrick restores this epic story to its rightful place in American history.
In 1820, the 240-ton Essex set sail from Nantucket on a routine voyage for whales. Fifteen months later, in the farthest reaches of the South Pacific, it was repeatedly rammed and sunk by an eighty-ton bull sperm whale. Its twenty-man crew, fearing cannibals on the islands to the west, made for the 3,000-mile-distant coast of South America in three tiny boats. During ninety days at sea under horrendous conditions, the survivors clung to life as one by one, they succumbed to hunger, thirst, disease, and fear.
In the Heart of the Sea tells perhaps the greatest sea story ever. Philbrick interweaves his account of this extraordinary ordeal of ordinary men with a wealth of whale lore and with a brilliantly detailed portrait of the lost, unique community of Nantucket whalers. Impeccably researched and beautifully told, the book delivers the ultimate portrait of man against nature, drawing on a remarkable range of archival and modern sources, including a long-lost account by the ship’s cabin boy. At once a literary companion and a page-turner that speaks to the same issues of class, race, and man’s relationship to nature that permeate the works of Melville, In the Heart of the Sea will endure as a vital work of American history.
“Fascinating…One of our country’s great adventure stories…when it comes to extremes, In the Heart of the Sea is right there.” The Wall Street Journal
“[Told] with verve and authenticity…a classic tale of the sea.” San Francisco Chronicle
“Nathaniel Philbrick has taken one of the most horrifying stories in maritime history and turned it into a classic….One of the most chilling books I have ever read.” Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm
Crew of the Essex
Chapter One: Nantucket
Chapter Two: Knockdown
Chapter Three: First Blood
Chapter Four: The Lees of Fire
Chapter Five: The Attack
Chapter Six: The Plan
Chapter Seven: At Sea
Chapter Eight: Centering Down
Chapter Nine: The Island
Chapter Ten: The Whisper of Necessity
Chapter Eleven: Games of Chance
Chapter Twelve: In the Eagle’s Shadow
Chapter Thirteen: Homecoming
Chapter Fourteen: Consequences