Philbrick, Nathaniel 1957(?)-

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PHILBRICK, Nathaniel 1957(?)-

PERSONAL: Born c. 1957; son of a college English professor; married; children: two. Education: Degrees from Brown University and Duke University. Hobbies and other interests: Sailing.

ADDRESSES: Home—Nantucket, MA. Offıce—Egan Institute of Maritime Studies, The Coffin School, 4 Winter St., Nantucket, MA 02554.

CAREER: Museum curator and author. Egan Institute of Maritime Studies, Nantucket, MA, director.

MEMBER: Nantucket Historical Association.

AWARDS, HONORS: National Book Award for Nonfiction, 2000, for In the Heart of the Sea; Nathan Bowditch Maritime Scholar of the Year, American Merchant Marine Museum, 2002; American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults designation, 2003, for Revenge of the Whale.


(Editor-in-chief) Yaahting: A Parody, 1984.

The Passionate Sailor, illustrations by Gary Patterson, Contemporary Books (Chicago, IL), 1987.

Away off Shore: Nantucket Island and Its People,1602-1890, illustrated by Diane Swartz, Mill Hill Press (Nantucket, MA), 1994.

(Author of introduction) Joseph C. Hart, Miriam Coffin; or, The Whale-Fishermen, Mill Hill Press (Nantucket, MA), 1995.

Second Wind: A Nantucket Sailor's Odyssey, Hyannis Imprints (Hyannis, MA), 1998.

Abram's Eyes: The Native American Legacy ofNantucket Island, Mill Hill Press (Nantucket, MA), 1992.

(Editor and author of notes) Thomas Nickerson and others, The Loss of the Ship "Essex" Sunk by a Whale, Penguin (New York, NY), 2000.

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship"Essex," Viking (New York, NY), 2000.

Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship "Essex" (for children), Putnam (New York, NY), 2002.

Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery: TheU.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842, Viking (New York, NY), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including Vanity Fair, New York Times Book Review, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and Los Angeles Times.

ADAPTATIONS: In the Heart of the Sea was recorded on audiocassette, read by Edward Herrmann, Penguin, 2000.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A book about the voyage of the "Mayflower" and the Plymouth settlement.

SIDELIGHTS: Inspired by his love of the sea, his knowledge of sailing, and his familiarity with life on coastal New England, Nathaniel Philbrick made the transition from being a regional writer to a nationally recognized author with his award-winning nonfiction title In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship "Essex." Prior to publishing this blockbuster, Philbrick was already recognized for his expertise in the field of maritime history due to his publication of such critically praised works as Abram's Eyes: TheNative American Legacy of Nantucket Island. Framing his work within the life story of Abram Quary, the island's last surviving Wampanoag native, Philbrick "affirms and enriches the depth of the maritime and American historical narrative," according to Sea History contributor Steven W. Jones, while in a New England Quarterly review Briton C. Busch maintained that Philbrick's "detailed knowledge of the island" makes Abram's Eyes an "important contribution" to the growing body of revisionist Native American history.

Based on an 1820 incident that also inspired American novelist Herman Melville to pen his classic novel Moby Dick, In the Heart of the Sea follows the final trip of the whaleship Essex as it makes what started out as a routine ocean crossing. Near the Galapagos Islands in the South Pacific the Essex is ultimately sunk after being rammed by an eighty-five-foot-long sperm whale. For the next month, three life boats carrying the ship's twenty-man crew sailed toward Henderson Island, the only island they knew was safe from cannibals. Leaving three men there, the remaining seventeen crewmen set out on a 3,000-mile voyage to South America. Only a few survived the trip, as hunger, thirst, and despair thinned their tattered ranks. Those who lived to tell the tale suffered under the suspicion that they had engaged in cannibalism until their deaths.

Using as his primary source an 1821 account of the voyage written by Essex first mate Owen Chase, Philbrick then "draws on modern research to explain the physiology of starvation, the pathology of cannibalism and the psychology of survival," explained Allen Mawer in his review of In the Heart of the Sea for the Times Literary Supplement, "in the process unraveling threads that are obscure or unintelligible in the original narrative." Praising the book as "by turns a compelling history, rip-roaring adventure and horror story," Geographical reviewer Chris Martin described In the Heart of the Sea as "a magnifying glass put to man's very nature," while Time contributor Frederic Golden found Philbrick's book "a spellbinding yarn . . . awash with human frailty."

Philbrick, who has made his home on Nantucket Island since the mid-1980s, is director of the Egan Institute of Maritime Studies, which protects and preserves Nantucket's historic legacy through educational programs, a museum, a sailing school, and operation of Mill Hill Press.



Booklist, March 1, 2000, Mary Carroll, review of In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship "Essex," p. 1146.

Economist (U.S.), May 13, 2000, "The Cannibalism of the Sea," p. 3.

Entertainment Weekly, July 21, 2000, Troy Patterson, review of In the Heart of the Sea, p. 74.

Geographical, June, 2000, Chris Martin, review of In the Heart of the Sea, p. 95.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2002, review of Revenge of the Whale, p. 1040; September 1, 2003, review of Sea of Glory, p. 1115.

National Fisherman, August, 2002, Linc Bedrosian, "A Whale of a Tale," p. 7.

New England Quarterly, March, 1999, Briton C. Busch, review of Abram's Eyes, pp. 144-146.

Publishers Weekly, April 10, 2000, review of In theHeart of the Sea, p. 88; September 8, 2003, review of Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery: The U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842.

School Library Journal, November, 2000, Judy McAloon, review of In the Heart of the Sea, p. 185; September, 2002, Elaine Fort Weischedel, review of Revenge of the Whale, p. 250.

Sea History, summer, 1998, Steven W. Jones, review of Abram's Eyes, p. 58; autumn, 1998, Peter Stanford, review of Away off Shore: Nantucket Island and Its People, p. 42.

Time, May 1, 2000, Frederic Golden, "Cannibals of Nantucket," p. 76.

Times Literary Supplement, July 21, 2000, Allen Mawer, review of In the Heart of the Sea, p. 8.

U.S. News & World Report, November 27, 2000, Marc Silver, review of In the Heart of the Sea, p. 20.


BookReporter, (April 8, 2003), Ann L. Bruns, review of In the Heart of the Sea.*

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Philbrick, Nathaniel 1957(?)-

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