Monday, 26 October 2015

Review: In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick

Title: In the Heart of the Sea
Author: Nathaniel Philbrick
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Pages: 336
Genres: Non-Fiction

In the Heart of the Sea

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 rammed and sunk by an 80-ton bull sperm whale. Its twenty-man crew 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. Philbrick interweaves his account of this extraordinary ordeal of ordinary men with a wealth of detail from archival and modern sources, including a long-lost account by the ship's cabin boy. At once a literary companion and a riveting adventure tale, In the Heart of the Sea is a vital work of American history.

This is the true story of the Whaleship Essex, sunk by an angry sperm whale in the middle of the Pacific, leaving its crew stranded at open sea in tiny whaleboats.

It was just utterly fascinating, this book had me googling sperm whales, googling the Pacific and Henderson Island - I was so memorised by it all. Stuck in the middle of an ocean in a leaky boat, thousands of miles from land is the stuff of my worst nightmares. The story is just so incredible. I am really excited to learn that a movie based on the story of the Essex is being released this December. That movie is going to be EPIC.

With hindsight, there were so many opportunities the crew of the Essex could have taken to avoid the disaster of spending months out at sea and slowly dying in tiny boats. It is really painful to read Philbrick describe all the 'what ifs' -the crew were truly victims of circumstance and victims of their existence within that particular time.

I just have to say though, after reading that the whalers used to spear the baby whales to lure the adults with their dying cries, I really was rooting for the whale. Karma lads...


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