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.
“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
Preface: February 23, 1821 Notes