The sinking of the whaleship Essex by an enraged spermwhale in the Pacific in November 1820 set in motion one of the most dramatic sea stories of all time: the twenty sailors who survived the wreck took to three small boats (one of which was again attacked by a whale) and only eight of them survived their subsequent 90-day ordeal, after resorting to cannibalising their mates.
Three months after the Essex was broken up, the whaleship Dauphin, cruising off the coast of South America, spotted a small boat in the open ocean. As they pulled alongside they saw piles of bones in the bottom of the boat, at least two skeletons’ worth, with two survivors – almost skeletons themselves – sucking the marrow from the bones of their dead ship-mates.
Reviews of In the Heart of the Sea
‘Utterly gripping.’ Daily Telegraph
‘Brilliant.’ The Times
‘Superbly readable…elegantly written…a compelling study of the infinite human meanings of the sea itself.’ Guardian
‘As gripping as it is grissly…a cracking narrative, a complex cast of characters and a terrible moral dilemma at its heart.’ Daily Mail