• In the Heart of the Sea

  • The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
  • By: Nathaniel Philbrick
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 10 hrs and 3 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (3,288 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $27.95

Buy for $27.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

National Book Award, Nonfiction, 2000

The ordeal of the whaleship Essex was an event as mythic in the nineteenth century as the sinking of the Titanic was in the twentieth. In 1819 the Essex left Nantucket for the South Pacific with 20 crew members aboard. In the middle of the South Pacific, the ship was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale. The crew drifted for more than 90 days in three tiny whaleboats, succumbing to weather, hunger, and disease and ultimately turning to drastic measures in the fight for survival.

Nathaniel Philbrick uses little-known documents, including a long-lost account written by the ship's cabin boy, and penetrating details about whaling and the Nantucket community to reveal the chilling events surrounding this epic maritime disaster. An intense and mesmerizing read, In the Heart of the Sea is a monumental work of history forever placing the Essex tragedy in the American historical canon.

©2000 Nathaniel Philbrick (P)2000 Penguin Audiobooks
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"Fascinating...One of our country's great adventure stories...when it comes to extremes, In the Heart of the Sea is right there." (The Wall Street Journal)

"A book that gets in your bones...Philbrick has created an eerie thriller from a centuries old tale....Scrupulously researched and eloquently written...it would have earned Melville's admiration." (The New York Times Book Review)

"Spellbinding." (Time)

Featured Article: Hearing Loss—Navigating the Noise of Grief and Surviving the Silence that Follows


Grief is complicated and messy and painful and frustratingly unique to each and every individual who has experienced loss. There is not a one-size-fits-all balm for that which can feel insurmountable, even unsurvivable. But when you're ready, embracing all of the sounds that made your loved one who they were can bring you a little closer to that memory, sometimes so close it can feel like they're still there.

What listeners say about In the Heart of the Sea

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,831
  • 4 Stars
    1,065
  • 3 Stars
    321
  • 2 Stars
    46
  • 1 Stars
    25
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,631
  • 4 Stars
    762
  • 3 Stars
    202
  • 2 Stars
    40
  • 1 Stars
    18
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,666
  • 4 Stars
    705
  • 3 Stars
    226
  • 2 Stars
    36
  • 1 Stars
    15

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Audio must have been fixed

Any additional comments?

Many of the audible reviews noted problems with the sound / editing. These must have been corrected, as I took a chance and used a credit on it, and the audio sounded perfectly fine. Scott Brick was a great narrator.

56 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Riveting

I don't listen to much non-fiction, preferring to lose myself in someone else's world. This book was recommended by a colleague and it sounded interesting so I got it. WOW - I couldn't stop listening to it. This is real life better than any fiction. An amazing story, set in the history of whaling, and Scott Brick was the perfect narrator for this book.

37 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good story, horrible audio

Interesting story but the production value / quality of the audio is absolutely terrible. The volume and clarity of the narrator varies wildly even within chapters. Better to read this in book form vs audio.

36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, worst-produced audiobook I've heard.

The book is great. The audiobook production is quite possibly the worst I've heard. The reader is fine, but the production cuts off the last two or three words of every chapter, and the next one will start with such a different room tone and EQ that it barely even sounds like the same person. Again, a great book, but someone needs to get in there and fix the audiobook ASAP. Few things as aggravating as every chapter cutting off.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Read this first, then read Moby-Dick

Would you consider the audio edition of In the Heart of the Sea to be better than the print version?


Any additional comments?

This book was not on my radar until I read “Railsea” by China Mieville, which is a young adult science fiction redux of Moby-Dick. I had never read Moby-Dick but figured since I knew the general outline of the story that would be enough. However, as is my wont, while reading “Railsea” I got more and more curious about Moby-Dick and started to do some research. That research brought me to “In the Heart of the Sea” and thank goodness it did.

“In the Heart of the Sea” is a fantastically well-written account of the true story of a whaling ship that was sunk by a whale in the 1820’s. It turns out that Melville knew the story of the Essex and the tale inspired some of the events in Moby-Dick. Philbrick has done his homework and gives the reader not merely the facts about the Essex, but also quite a bit of history about whaling in general and Nantucket whaling in particular. He also delves into research on how humans survive in extraordinary circumstances, which was shocking, horrifying and fascinating in equal measures. In addition to all this, Philbrick gives an overview of the life of Herman Melville and explains how Moby-Dick was written.

After finishing “In the Heart of the Sea” I was absolutely compelled to read Moby-Dick. I picked up an abridged audio version and was completely amazed by it. I thank Nathaniel Philbrick for penning his history and opening up my mind so that I was able to fully appreciate Moby-Dick.

34 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Proof poor editing can ruin a great story

This is the worst edited audiobook I've ever heard. I tried to make it through it but couldn't. Even within the chapters, the sound quality and background noise level differed, which was distracting. But, the biggest problem is that each new chapter starts by cutting off the end of the previous one. The narrator will literary be mid-sentence when it cuts in with the start of a new chapter. It's disorienting and jarring -- each time it happened, I had to take time to collect myself and figure out what was happening. After about 4 chapters of this, I just gave up. It was too jarring, and I found myself on edge the entire book; it prevented me from getting into it.

It would be like buying a book that has the last few sentences (or even more -- I have no way to know how much of each chapter is missing) cut off or that is missing a page or two throughout the book. If I ordered such a book, I would return it, and I'm thankful that audible allows returns. This one is going back. It's a shame the poor editing can ruin such a fascinating story.

33 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Before you see the movie, but after you read Moby-Dick.

"Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee."
- Moby-Dick

I've been wanting to read this book for years. Patiently it sat, right behind me, waiting. I enjoyed Philbrick's 'Mayflower' and 'Sea of Glory'. Given how much I love Moby-Dick, I'm kinda surprised it took me so long (15 years) to read this history of the Essex.

Philbrick paces this narrative well. He patches together all the major perspectives. When the story leaves gaps, he dead reckons and is able to fill the story in with similar types of accidents, aggressive whale experiences, sailors, oil, blood, starvation, and -- well -- other episodes of cannibalism. He is able to humanize the captain, the first-mate, and the people of Nantucket (while also giving serious consideration for all the other sailors; those from Nantucket, outlanders, and black sailors too). It was a quick read, and compelling.

30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Wonderful Nonfiction Tale/Horrible Mech. Editing

This is a fantastic, true tale of the Whaler Essex, its fate against an angry whale and the challenges facing the survivors. Amazing story. Well read by the narrator.

The biggest flaw is the mechanical editing. Horribly spliced. Sections seem to run into each other, and volume levels are confusion. For such a fantastic story, carefully read, this is a sad and sloppy treatment of the story.

Other than that, a great listen.

30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story - not great recording

Would you try another book from Nathaniel Philbrick and/or Scott Brick?

yes

What three words best describe Scott Brick’s performance?

His performance is fine, but there was no equalizing his voice so it was loud and then soft. Bad recording and bad transitions.

29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good book, poor editing ...

What would have made In the Heart of the Sea better?

The editing was inconsistent. The story would stop randomly, not even at the end of chapters (cutting in the middle of a sentence). Then start again with a different sound and tone. Sometimes I wondered if it was the same narrator, the sound was so different.

What did you like best about this story?

Moved quickly, gave good context to the story and was intriguing.

23 people found this helpful

.