Monday, September 19, 2011

GRANDMOTHER'S LIBRARY: "In the Heart of the Sea" by Nathaniel Philbrick

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick was quite a book to read!  In spite of the tragic details of this true story, it was a captivating tale.
This is the real event that inspired 'Moby Dick'. It says that where "Moby Dick" left off, this tale began!
This is the story of whalers of Nantucket who get attacked by an 80 foot sperm whale in the very middle of the Pacific Ocean and the horrific ordeal that follows in their 90 days at sea in tiny whaleboats.
This fascinating story is filled with details about 19th century Nantucket, the whaling industry, Quakers, the ocean, the whales, the ships, etc.These facts are all inundated in the story of the survivors along with the details of cannibalism that was necessary for survival.  Philbrick even included facts on how the body reacts to starvation and compared what the survivors went through to starvation studies.

I knew that survivors of tragic events could resort to cannibalism of dead companions, but this sad tale explains how the men decided to 'draw lots' for their survival: the first 'short straw' was who would be killed for food; the 2nd short straw was who would have to do the killing.  How terrible to need to resort to killing and eating your friend, cousin, co-worker. It is unfathomable.
Here is a picture I found done by a whaler:
And here's another picture of a sperm whale attacking a whale boat.  This was a dangerous occupation!
This is altogether a wonderful tale of nature, disaster and survival.

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