In the Heart of the Sea | The True Whale Tale That Inspired Moby-Dick

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
Nathaniel Philbrick (2001)

Anyone following my book recommendations for low, these many decades, could probably guess that this book was bound to show up on my list. I’m a fan of Moby-Dick (see my review here) and am continually drawn to true tales of high seas adventure (my reviews of The Perfect Storm, Batavia’s Graveyard, and Over the Edge of the World to name a few), so it only follows that a National Book Award-winning work of narrative non-fiction about the events that inspired Moby-Dick would be right up my alley.

In 1820, the Nantucket whale ship Essex was attacked by a sperm whale and quickly sank in the Pacific Ocean, stranding the crew for over ninety days at sea. Three decades later, Herman Melville drew inspiration for his epic whale tale from the infamous disaster. Philbrick’s informative and exciting book tells the Essex story and the history of New England’s 19th-century whaling industry with lively and engaging prose. Such an amazing true tale, so compulsively readable, it’s easy to see how it would eventually make its way to the big screen.


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