In the Heart of the Sea

‘In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex was assaulted by something no one could believe: a whale of mammoth size and will, and an almost human sense of vengeance. The real-life maritime disaster would inspire Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. But that told only half the story.

‘In the Heart of the Sea reveals the encounter’s harrowing aftermath, as the ship’s surviving crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive. Braving storms, starvation, panic and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade, as their captain searches for direction on the open sea and his first mate still seeks to bring the great whale down.’

Well, it’ll be fun – but no doubt it will also feature pretty young people, and some serious dollops of the schmaltz Hollywood uses to sell films to the youngsters that buy most of the tickets. But at least the story of the Essex is not being forgotten.

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Abner’s whale, from the Cruise of the Cachalot

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‘We went alone, with barely a hundred fathoms of line, in case he should take it into his head to sound again. The speed at which we went made it appear as if a gale of wind was blowing, and we flew along the sea surface’

Everyone’s heard of Melville’s blockbusting novel Moby Dick – but perhaps fewer know about Frank T Bullen’s real-life description The Cruise of the Cachalot or Round the world after sperm whales.

My copy was published in 1901 and I think it’s a piece of work that brilliantly captures the cruelty, fear, hardships and excitements the whalers must have known while about their ghastly trade. Here’s a short chapter that I hope makes the point – do take time out to read it; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot

Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot

Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot

Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot

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