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: 288,196
  • 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, is a leading authority on the history of Nantucket Island. His In the Heart of the Sea won the National Book Award. His latest book is Sea of Glory, about the epic U.S. Exploring Expedition of 1838–1842. His other books include Away off Shore: Nantucket Island and Its People, 1602-1890 (which Russell Baker called "indispensable") and Abram's Eyes: The Native American Legend of Nantucket Island ("a classic of historical truthtelling," according to Stuart Frank, director of the Kendall Whaling Museum). He has written an introduction to a new edition of Joseph Hart's Miriam Coffin, or The Whale Fisherman, a Nantucket novel (first published in 1834) that Melville relied upon for information about the island when writing Moby Dick. Phillbick's Why Read Moby-Dick? was a finalist for the New England Society Book Award.

Philbrick, a champion sailboat racer, has also written extensively about sailing, including The Passionate Sailor (1987) and Second Wind: A Sunfish Sailor's Odyssey. He was editor in chief of the classic Yaahting: A Parody (1984).

In his role as director of the Egan Institute of Maritime Studies, Philbrick, who is also a research fellow at the Nantucket Historical Association, gives frequent talks about Nantucket and sailing. He has appeared on "NBC Today Weekend", A&E's "Biography" series, and National Public Radio and has served as a consultant for the movie "Moby Dick", shown on the USA Network. He received a bachelor of Arts from Brown University and a Master of Arts in American Literature from Duke. He lives on Natucket with his wife and two children.

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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