My good friend Chris G. suggested I read this — in fact he bought it for me and dropped it off in my mailbox one day. 🙂 As far as survival stories, it started a bit slow compared to Unbroken and Endurance. But once it got going, it was really good.
The Whaleship Essex and its tale are the basis of Herman Melville’s Mobey Dick. The funny thing is, the whole time I was reading this book, the story seemed so familiar. I thought that was due to me having read Mobey Dick, but it turns out, according to my “reading notebook” from 2000, I read it all the way back then! See this web page — before there were blogging tools. In fact, at that time, this book inspired me to read Mobey Dick, which I wrote about here… Again, before there were blogging tools. Here is what I wrote about Mobey Dick back then:
Wow, finally done! The dates listed above are correct — it took me about 7 months to finish this book. (Of course, I did read many others in that time!) I decided I really wanted to read this after reading “In the Heart of the Sea,” which is a true story of a whale ramming a ship and causing it to sink (and likely Melville’s inspiration for Moby Dick). I had to read a few chapters of this back in high school, but I don’t remember much of it anyway, and if I did do much back then, it was probably with Cliff Notes. The book is definitely worth the read — I’m not sure there is anything else quite like it. It is certainly not an “easy read,” though, and that is why it took me so long. I often put it down for a month or more at a time. There is so much detail on so many things — often chapters of several pages devoted to something as simple as a rope, or more complicated as the whole study of whales as known to Melville in his time. But often these chapters are filled with symbolism of humanity, life, religion, etc. Again, worth the read, though it’s not easy.
If you like adventure stories and stories of survival in extreme circumstances, In the Heart of the Sea is an excellent read.