Daily Archives: May 13, 2011

In the Heart of the Sea Book Review

Row, Row, Row Your Boat…

What if you were stranded on a boat for 90 days with no food or water?  Would you succumb to your fate and join Davy Jones…or would you stop at nothing to ensure your survival…even if that meant resorting to cannibalism?

In 1820, in the middle of the unforgiving Pacific Ocean, the 20 sailors of the whale ship Essex found themselves in such a situation.

When the Essex took off from Nantucket, the crew of the little whaling ship was ready, willing, and able to take on any whale that got in their way.  While their journey started off rough, they soon gathered hundreds of dollars worth of precious whale oil, meat, and blubber.  However, the whales weren’t going to go down easy.

As is true in many situations, the Universe is quick to even the score when things start going your way.  For the crew of the Essex, the Universe acted by proxy…in the form of one 80-foot sperm whale that was out for a little blood of its own.

In the Heart of the Sea is a chilling and epic tale of survival.  Nathaniel Philbrick recounts this horror story that motivated Herman Melville’s much less interesting book, Moby Dick, and doesn’t skimp on any details.  With nearly 50 pages of footnotes alone, Philbrick proves his knowledge of this tragic story, yet doesn’t bore you or bog you down with useless information.

What becomes of this 20-man crew?  What becomes of the whale that fiercely destroyed their boat?  How does a small island recover from such a major tragedy?  All these questions and more are answered in the final pages of In the Heart of the Sea.  This is a great accompaniment to Moby Dick (or replacement, for that matter).  Don’t be surprised if you find yourself laughing, crying, and cringing along with these brave men who took on the biggest battle of them all…survival.

NEXT WEEK:  Gather around for story time!  But these aren’t your grandma’s stories…they’re not even your great-grandma’s stories…these are the stories that started them all…

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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