Books - Review


Showing all books by: Nathaniel Philbrick

In the Heart of the Sea
True story of the whaling ship Essex and her crew, who get sunk by a sperm whale and have to survive months in open boats. Lots of good background info too on the inhabitants of Nantucket island and life in a whaling community in the early 1800's.
Very good - all very interesting and plenty of whale blubber and cannibalism.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2000
Read: November 17th 2007

Sea of Glory
The Epic South Seas Expedition 1838-42. The story of Ex Ex, the US Exploring Expedition that set off to discover Antarctica, chart lots of the unknown Pacific islands and explore the US Northwest coast (the Columbia river mainly). The trip was led by 'Captain' Charles Wilkes (only a lieutenant - a fact he bitterly resented) who was court martialed when he got back on account of being horrible to all his competent officers, and overly brutal in managing the sailors. He got a lot of the job done though.
Excellent read. Lots of iceberg dodging in the southern ocean, cannibal dodging in the Fiji Islands, and trying to get over the tricky bar at the entrance to the Columbia river. Scandal and triumph on their return.
Score: 8
Published: 2003
Read: February 16th 2016

The Last Stand
A detailed history of Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Plenty of historical background and context and character portraits.
Excellent history of dramatic times. Lots of pertinent detail, descriptions of personalities and the politics of the day that lead to the showdown between Sitting Bull (and associated tribes) and Custer's regiment. I really enjoyed this, will have to get his Mayflower book next...
Score: 8
Published: 2010
Read: February 29th 2016

Mayflower
The story of the Pilgrims arriving in America and their difficult and violent early history, revolving around survival and interacting with the indigenous peoples.
Very interesting history but not quite as gripping as his other books. Made it all seem very bleak and frightening though, which I imagine it was. Sickness, starvation, mud, violence seemed omnipresent.
Score: 7
Published: 2006
Read: June 21st 2017