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

A whale rams and sinks a Nantucket whaling ship in the middle of the Pacific. The crew of 20 men takes to their whaling skiffs and makes for South America, where eight survivors finally are rescued after three months at sea. The sailors lived on barnacles, a tortoise they took with them, and their shipmates’ dead bodies. Philbrick writes a compelling narrative, but there are so few source documents that it seems like it would be more interesting to read the sailors’ own diaries and accounts of the tragedy.

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