Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex

Overview

On November 20, 1820, the whaleship Essex was rammed and sunk by an angry whale.  Within minutes, the twenty-one-man crew, including the fourteen-year-old cabin boy Thomas Nickerson, found themselves stranded in three leaky boats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with barely any supplies and little hope.  Three months later, two of the boats were rescued 4,500 miles away, off the coast of South America.  Of the twenty-one castaways, only eight survived, including young Thomas.  Based on his ...

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Overview

On November 20, 1820, the whaleship Essex was rammed and sunk by an angry whale.  Within minutes, the twenty-one-man crew, including the fourteen-year-old cabin boy Thomas Nickerson, found themselves stranded in three leaky boats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with barely any supplies and little hope.  Three months later, two of the boats were rescued 4,500 miles away, off the coast of South America.  Of the twenty-one castaways, only eight survived, including young Thomas.  Based on his New York Times best-seller In the Heart of the Sea, Nathaniel Philbrick recreates the amazing events of the ill-fated Essex through the sailors own first-hand accounts, photos, maps, and artwork, and tells the tale of one of the great true-life adventure stories.

Recounts the 1820 sinking of the whaleship "Essex" by an enraged sperm whale and how the crew of young men survived against impossible odds. Adapted from the author's adult book "In the Heart of the Sea."

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Nathaniel Philbrick retells for teenage readers his National Book Award winner, In the Heart of the Sea. The narrative could hardly be more gripping: The whaleship Essex is rammed and sunk by an angry whale, stranding the ship's 20-man crew (including several teenagers) in three leaky boats. Reconstructed from firsthand accounts, including the notes of 15-year-old cabin boy Thomas Nickerson, Revenge of the Whale sustains excitement from first page to last.
Publishers Weekly
Ahoy! From the first strains of the sea chantey that opens this solid program, listeners will be swept back to an exciting and busy time in maritime history. Mali performs a keen reading that matches the gripping tone of Philbrick's work about the wreck of the Nantucket whaler Essex in November 1820 and the amazing tale of some of the crew's survival and rescue several months later. As Philbrick writes, the sinking of the Essex by an enraged sperm whale in the Pacific inspired the dramatic ending of Melville's Moby Dick. But this history-filled volume, which often sounds like a novel, is the real thing, culled from accounts of people who were actually on the ship. Philbrick employs copious detail from the notebooks of the Essex's cabin boy Thomas Nickerson and a previously published account of first mate Owen Chase to great effect. Mali makes sure that listeners ride the waves of exhilaration, fear, tragedy and joyous relief as he introduces the crew and their plight. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-Nathaniel Philbrick's Revenge of the Whale (Grosset, 2002), an abridgement of his adult title, In the Heart of the Sea (Viking, 2000), is the true story of hardship and survival on the last voyage of the whale ship Essex in 1820. Using the accounts of two of the crewmen who survived, Philbrick tells the story of the crew's struggles to stay alive after the ship was rammed by a whale and damaged beyond repair in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. While Taylor Mali's narration provides little vocal excitement, the electrifying details of cannibalism and the attacks by whales and sharks is enough to hold students' attention. Mali's reading makes it difficult to distinguish between the two crew members' accounts or any other quoted source used by Philbrick. While there are some dramatic changes in his tone when climatic scenes build, there is not enough suspense in his voice to keep students interested until the next thrilling moment. The sea songs at the beginning and end are catchy, and students will learn a great deal about whaling in the early 1800's. Although this is not a rousing read, middle school students who like sea stories will be engaged by the descriptive passages of the hardships encountered by the crew of the Essex.-Anita Lawson, Otsego High School, MI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142400685
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 3/30/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 169,763
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.08 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Nathaniel Philbrick

Nathaniel Philbrick grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and earned a BA in English from Brown University and an MA in America Literature from Duke University, where he was a James B. Duke Fellow. He was Brown University’s first Intercollegiate All-American sailor in 1978, the same year he won the Sunfish North Americans in Barrington, RI. After working as an editor at Sailing World magazine, he wrote and edited several books about sailing, including The Passionate Sailor, Second Wind, and Yaahting: A Parody.  
 
In 1986, Philbrick moved to Nantucket with his wife Melissa and their two children. In 1994, he published his first book about the island’s history, Away Off Shore, followed by a study of the Nantucket’s native legacy, Abram’s Eyes. He was the founding director of Nantucket’s Egan Maritime Institute and is still a research fellow at the Nantucket Historical Association. 

In 2000, Philbrick published the New York Times bestseller In the Heart of the Sea, which won the National Book Award for nonfiction. The book is the basis of the forthcoming Warner Bros. motion picture “Heart of the Sea,” directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Benjamin Walker, Ben Wishaw, and Tom Holland, which is scheduled for release in March, 2015. The book also inspired a 2001 Dateline special on NBC as well as the 2010 two-hour PBS American Experience film “Into the Deep” by Ric Burns.
 
His next book was Sea of Glory, published in 2003, which won the Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Naval History Prize and the Albion-Monroe Award from the National Maritime Historical Society. The New York Times Bestseller Mayflower was a finalist for both the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in History and the Los Angeles Times Book Award, won the Massachusetts Book Award for nonfiction, and was named one the ten Best Books of 2006 by the New York Times Book Review. Mayflower is currently in development as a limited series on FX.
 
In 2010, he published the New York Times bestseller The Last Stand, which was named a New York Times Notable book, a 2010 Montana Book Award Honor Book, and a 2011 ALA Notable Book. Philbrick was an on-camera consultant to the two-hour PBS American Experience film “Custer’s Last Stand” by Stephen Ives. The book is currently being adapted for a ten-hour, multi-part television series. The audio book for Philbrick’s Why Read Moby-Dick? (2011) made the ALA's Listen List in 2012 and was a finalist for the New England Society Book Award.
 
Philbrick’s latest New York Times bestseller, Bunker Hill:  A City, a Siege, a Revolution, was published in 2013 and was awarded both the 2013 New England Book Award for Non-Fiction and the 2014 New England Society Book Award. Bunker Hill won the 2014 book award from the Society of Colonial Wars, and has been optioned by Warner Bros. for feature film adaptation with Ben Affleck attached to direct.
 
Philbrick has also received the Byrne Waterman Award from the Kendall Whaling Museum, the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for distinguished service from the USS Constitution Museum, the Nathaniel Bowditch Award from the American Merchant Marine Museum, the William Bradford Award from the Pilgrim Society, and the Boston History Award from the Bostonian Society. He was named the 2011 Cushing Orator by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and has an honorary doctorate from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, where he delivered the commencement address in 2009.
 
Philbrick’s writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, the New York Times Book Review, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe. He has appeared on the Today Show, the Morning Show, Dateline, PBS’s American Experience, C-SPAN, and NPR. He and his wife still live on Nantucket.

Biography

Champion sailboat racer Nathaniel Philbrick is one of the premier authorities on New England's Nantucket Island, and an all around aficionado of maritime activities. Ever since he published his first book, a short, humorous take on sailing titled The Passionate Sailor, Philbrick has been sharing that passion with readers. Whether exploring his beloved Nantucket or tracing tragedies and triumphs on the open sea throughout history, Philbrick is the writer of some of the most illuminating and harrowing histories to come sailing across bookshelves in the past decade.

While Philbrick broke into publishing with the lighthearted The Passionate Sailor, he truly established his role as a chronicler of Nantucket—the one-time whaling capital of the world—with his second book, Away Off Shore. Instead of focusing on the colorfully quaint legends that hardly scrape the surface of Nantucket's rich history, Philbrick chose to take a more sober look at the island and how it rose to success. He brought that same objectivity to subsequent books such as Abram's Eyes, which delves into the vast Native American population of Nantucket, separating folklore from historical evidence, and his breakthrough In the Heart of the Sea. Here, Philbrick takes a fascinating look at the legendary sinking of the Essex, a tale that would form the backbone of Herman Melville's classic Moby Dick. If anything, the true story of a wayward ship's encounter with a giant whale is even more terrifying and gripping than anything in Melville's imagination. In the Heart of the Sea is at its core a tragedy rife with painful ironies, fatal decisions, cannibalism, and a final encounter with a furious sperm whale.

The key to this National Book Award winner is that it is told with all the flair and suspense of any fictional story. "What I really like is narrative-driven non-fiction," Philbrick explained to Barnes & Noble.com. "A story is important for anyone to engage with what happened in the past." Just as Philbrick used this tactic to relate the tragedy of the Essex, he used it to tell of the triumphant U.S. Exploring Expedition of 1838 in Sea of Glory. No less engaging than its predecessor, Sea of Glory is almost like the yang to the shadowy yin of In the Heart of the Sea, gloriously recounting a grander ocean expedition than that of Lewis and Clark, a quest to map the entire Pacific Ocean that would lead to the discovery of Antarctica.

Philbrick's next book retells a story with which most American schoolchildren are familiar but only through a filter of benign Thanksgiving pageants. The story of the pilgrim's journey to Plymouth Rock told in Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War is quite a different tale. Philbrick was not exactly burning to revisit this well-traveled chapter in history, saying of the Mayflower's voyage, "what could be more boring?" However, once he peeled away the holiday wrapping, he discovered a dark web of violence, starvation, illness, death, and war to rival the tragedy of In the Heart of the Sea. It is as if the pilgrim and Indian's story, as well as their true nature, is being revealed for the very first time, with provocative depictions of a bloody-thirsty Miles Standish and a duplicitous Squanto.

The Library Journal boldly declared that Mayflower was "clearly one of the year's best books" of 2006, and it is certainly one of the most riveting, a historical work that reads like great fiction written by a master at the peak of his abilities.

Good To Know

When Philbrick was a young boy, his father, a professor of English literature with a focus on Maritime fiction, would tell him about the Essex's tragic sea voyage as a sort of grim bedtime story.

Nathaniel Philbrick served as a consultant on USA television's 1998 adaptation of Moby Dick starring Patrick Stewart.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Nat Philbrick
    2. Hometown:
      Nantucket, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 11, 1956
    2. Place of Birth:
      Boston, Massachusetts
    1. Education:
      B.A., Brown University, 1978; M.A., Duke University
    2. Website:

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