In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
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From the author of Mayflower and the forthcoming Valiant Ambition, the riveting bestseller tells the story of the true events that inspired Melville's Moby-Dick.
Winner of the National Book Award, Nathaniel Philbrick's book is a fantastic saga of survival and adventure, steeped in the lore of whaling, with deep resonance in American literature and history.
In 1820, the whaleship Essex was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale, leaving the desperate crew to drift for more than ninety days in three tiny boats. Nathaniel Philbrick uses little-known documents and vivid details about the Nantucket whaling tradition to reveal the chilling facts of this infamous maritime disaster. In the Heart of the Sea, recently adapted into a major feature film starring Chris Hemsworth, is a book for the ages.
page and chapter openings, and tailpiece by David Lazarus Ship diagrams on pages xviii and 35 © 2000 L. F. Tantillo Maps on pages 46–47 and 179 by Jeffrey L. Ward Set in Bodoni Twelve Book Designed by Francesca Belanger Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it
deal longer than two years if she were to return with a full cargo of oil. With the temperatures dropping and the legendary dangers of the Horn looming ahead of them, tensions aboard the Essex were reaching the breaking point. Richard Henry Dana experienced ﬁrsthand how the morale of a ship’s crew could deteriorate to the extent that even the slightest incident might be perceived as a horrendous, unbearable injustice: [A] thousand little things, daily and almost hourly occurring, which no one who
the disturbing sound. What could it be, Nickerson wondered, a blood-thirsty jaguar? But no one said a word. Finally, the two noble whale hunters stopped and “looked at each other a few mo- The Lees of Fire 69 ments as though they wished to say something which each was ashamed to open ﬁrst.” As if on cue, they turned around and began walking back to town, casually remarking that it was too hot an afternoon to hunt and that they would return on a cooler day. But there was no fooling their
whaleboats could travel only with the wind, their options were quite limited. Backtracking their way to the Galapagos and beyond that to South America, a trip of more than two thousand miles, meant bucking both the southeasterly trade winds and a strong west-ﬂowing current. Pollard deemed it impossible. Sailing to the west, however, was another matter. The closest islands in this direction were the Marquesas, about 1,200 miles away. Unfortunately, the Essex men had heard that their native
wrote, “however much, according to the strict imposition which we felt upon ourselves it might demand.” Chase warned Peterson that if he attempted to steal again, it would cost him his life. Light breezes persisted throughout the next day and into the following night. The tensions among Chase’s crew had begun to ease, but their individual suffering continued unabated, their bodies wracked by a hunger that the daily ration of an ounce and a half of bread hardly began to alleviate. Still, the