In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

Nathaniel Philbrick


What was it like to be a sailor in the mid-nineteenth century? This book provides an evocative and compelling story. From the way in which Nantucket Island was once the centre of the world's most valuable commercial trade, to the privations and hardships associated with whaling, the detail and contextualisation is impressive – and that's before we even get to the main events, a whale turning and sinking the ship hunting it, the crew's subsequent wandering the eastern Pacific in small open boats, their resort to cannibalism to stay alive, and the aftermath of their rescue. On the way we also encounter some wonderfully out-of-the-way islands, as well as a time when people – even sailors familiar with the waters – could reasonably (if inaccurately) fear murder and savagery on the various Pacific islands.

Finished on Sun, 04 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0700.   Rating 4/5.