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The Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex [Paperback]

Nathaniel Philbrick
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 29 2004

On November 20, 1820, the whaleship Essex was rammed and sunk by an angry whale.  Within minutes, the twenty-one-man crew, including the fourteen-year-old cabin boy Thomas Nickerson, found themselves stranded in three leaky boats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with barely any supplies and little hope.  Three months later, two of the boats were rescued 4,500 miles away, off the coast of South America.  Of the twenty-one castaways, only eight survived, including young Thomas.  Based on his New York Times best-seller In the Heart of the Sea, Nathaniel Philbrick recreates the amazing events of the ill-fated Essex through the sailors own first-hand accounts, photos, maps, and artwork, and tells the tale of one of the great true-life adventure stories.


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

For older readers, Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick describes a tale worthy of Ahab: on November 20, 1820, an angry sperm whale took vengeance on the men who would slay it for oil. Adapted from Philbrick's bestselling title for adults, In the Heart of the Sea, the narrative draws from primary sources, including the account of cabin boy Thomas Nickerson, who joined the crew at age 14. Ages 7-12.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-10-Philbrick has carefully adapted and abridged his adult title, In the Heart of the Sea (Viking, 2000). He tells the story of the Nantucket whaleship Essex, which sank in the Pacific in November 1820, after being deliberately rammed twice by an apparently enraged sperm whale. Three months later, five emaciated men were rescued from two small boats filled with the bones of their unlucky companions. The whale's attack on the Essex gave Herman Melville the idea for the climactic scene in Moby-Dick. The abridging is primarily accomplished by limiting descriptive passages and focusing more tightly on the narrative elements. However, sufficient description is retained to give readers an understanding of both whaling and life in Nantucket in the early 19th century. Other than these elisions, the text is largely unchanged from the original, although in a few places a simpler synonym replaces a more evocative word; likewise, in passages where he had assumed background knowledge, Philbrick skillfully supplies context and explanation. The lengthy section of notes following the text has been omitted, and the extensive bibliography has been replaced by a short, briefly annotated list of related reading. Useful maps, diagrams, and other illustrations have been retained. The story of the Essex crew is a compelling saga of desperation and survival that will appeal to young people. The grisly details of cannibalism necessary to the telling of the story may provoke shivers but should not give anyone nightmares. Walter Brown's Sea Disasters (HarperCollins, 1981) includes a brief chapter on the Essex, but there is nothing else for young readers on the subject. With this masterful adaptation, Philbrick's work fills a void.
Elaine Fort Weischedel, Franklin Public Library, MA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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It was, he later remembered, "the most pleasing moment of my life"- the moment he stepped aboard the whaleship Essex for the first time. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Hardcover
i read this book the reveng of the whale.it is about a huge sperm whale that attacks a ship that is trying to capturen it.they are trying to kill it beacuse of the sperm oil it has.they bring it back to land and sell it.i didnt like the book becase it didnt really have a main charecter.all it talked about is what the ship did and how they capiutur the whales.i also didnt like it because i thought it was going to have more action in it.most of the time ther just sailing and not really doing anything really exiting.it also dont really have a story line all it talkes about is what the ship is doing.it has no charecter conflicts.i was expecting more fights seenes with the whale and i would have hopped the would have discribed the whale better and how it attacked the ship more.some of the things i did like about it was it had one vwery god part in it.when the capterd one of the whales.it told how the got it and what they had to do to get it.i also like the pictures in the book it showed what the whales looked like and all the tools they had.i really didnt like this book but if you read it mabey you will u might be suprised.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Richie's Picks: REVENGE OF THE WHALE Oct. 7 2002
Format:Hardcover
Baby beluga in the deep blue sea,
Swim so wild and you swim so free.
Heaven above and the sea below,
And a little white whale on the go.--Raffi
REVENGE OF THE WHALE: THE TRUE STORY OF THE WHALESHIP ESSEX is Nathaniel Philbrick's adaptation for young people of his National Book Award-winning bestseller, IN THE HEART OF THE SEA. While I have not read the adult version, I can tell you that this edition of the author's compelling account of the real-life catastrophe of 1820-21, in which a whale attacks a whaleship in the middle of the Pacific, was detailed and gory enough to keep me horrified for hours, to the extent that it caused me to forget all about my initial delight that at least one whale had apparently gotten even with humankind for what our forefathers had done for the sake of lamp oil and ambergris.
Your mama told you never
to eat your friends
with your fingers and
hands, but I say you
ought to eat what
you will - shove it
in your mouth any way
that you can. --Silver Spoon by Grace Slick
Utilizing primary source material, including two accounts written by survivors of the wreck about their nightmarish journey across thousands of miles of the Pacific from the middle of nowhere to their rescue off the coast of Chile, the author has crafted a first-rate adventure story that is also a tale of unbearable tragedy.
"Like a giant bird of prey, the whaleship moved lazily up the western coast of South America, zigging and zagging across a living sea of oil. For that was the Pacific Ocean in 1821, a vast field of warm-blooded oil deposits known as sperm whales.
Read more ›
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting... May 1 2004
By Review
Format:Hardcover
Revenge of the Whale is a somewhat gory book. The prelude really gets you interested, but when the stroy starts, it's pretty boring; all about the island of Nantucket and how sailing and whaling is their life...lalala. Once they hit the water, the story starts to get a little interesting, though. A whale rams the Essex ship and all twenty men get onto the smaller whaleboats floating out in the middle of the ocean. The captain is a very pressured man and never goes withwhat he thinks. Everyone can change his mind if there's majority. This course eventually leads to seperation of the crew, thirst, hunger, and cannibalism... It's up to you if you want to read it. Moby Dick was based on the story of the Essex so if you liked MOby Dick, you might like this.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Blow The Whale Down March 8 2004
Format:Hardcover
What is this book about? Whale revenge? What is that? I read the whole book and all they do is ride around in a boat. And there's a whale. And they kill it. This is basically Moby Dick for kids. I'm guessing the whale is the main character as none of the characters are memorable. I don't fault the author, but what editor allowed this book to sneak by? I guess somebody who likes whales a real lot.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indomitable Survival Overcomes Impossible Circumstances Sept. 23 2004
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This story has to be one of the most astonishing tales of survival in recorded history. Before I say more, let me caution you that this story (and parts of this review) is not for those with weak stomachs.

After their ship is disabled by an attacking sperm whale, the survivors find themselves on three open boats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean over 2,000 miles from their targeted landfall in South America. With luck, they will make it in 30 days. They soon find themselves in a stall as the winds fail to cooperate, except to provide severe storms that threaten to capsize the boats.

Soon, all the food is encrusted with salt and everyone is suffering with severe dehydration. Then things start to get worse! I won't go further, but you have an amazing story of survival ahead of you.

Two of the few survivors of this terrible ordeal later committed their experiences to writing, which provide great resources for this well-researched book.

At another level, the book is also extremely interesting because these experiences were important influences on Herman Melville's writing of the American classic, Moby Dick. The book makes the connection, including how Melville came to learn the story.

At a third level, the book is a fascinating history of whaling around 1920. If you are like me, you will cringe when the whalers devastate island after island. But that's not the limit to their willingness to use nature to their own advantage.

The ultimate irony is that the survivors went the wrong way. Those from Nantucket did not know about Tahiti and Hawaii, and chose not to go in either of those directions -- either of which would have provided more rapid safety and comfort. The primary reason they chose not to go in these directions is because they feared running into cannibals. Soon the survivors were studying the remains of dead shipmates with hunger. And then it gets worse.

So, you have three different kinds of books to read here, anyone of which could be enormously enjoyable to you. Get ready for the trip of your life!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revenge of the Whale May 8 2007
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Revenge of the Whale is about a whaleship journey, with the ship Essex. Captain George Pollard faces many mysterious, and fatal incidents with two different kinds of whales, and many different kinds of weather. This whaleship sailed out of Nantuckett, MA to find only one resource...oil. But they've come across more than just oil, but tragedy along with it.

My personal favorite part of the book is when the crew first sees land in months. I liked this part of the book becuase, it gave me a great essence of releif. I also liked this part of the book becuase, it showed that God gave the crew mercy, something they've always needed. The last reason I liked this book is becuase, I was thinking about what the job description to be a whaler if they told the applicant everything, " You may find yourself eating your best friend, starving to death, dieing of thirst, and drinking the blood of turtles.

I reccommend this book to only a mature audience becuase, little kids would certainly not appreciate this incredible historical story. There is also some confusing and misleading parts of this book that young people wouldnt care for or understand. This story may also bring fear to a small child of the ocean or whales. Once again, mature audiences only!
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richie's Picks: REVENGE OF THE WHALE Oct. 7 2002
By Richie Partington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Baby beluga in the deep blue sea,
Swim so wild and you swim so free.
Heaven above and the sea below,
And a little white whale on the go.--Raffi
REVENGE OF THE WHALE: THE TRUE STORY OF THE WHALESHIP ESSEX is Nathaniel Philbrick's adaptation for young people of his National Book Award-winning bestseller, IN THE HEART OF THE SEA. While I have not read the adult version, I can tell you that this edition of the author's compelling account of the real-life catastrophe of 1820-21, in which a whale attacks a whaleship in the middle of the Pacific, was detailed and gory enough to keep me horrified for hours, to the extent that it caused me to forget all about my initial delight that at least one whale had apparently gotten even with humankind for what our forefathers had done for the sake of lamp oil and ambergris.
Your mama told you never
to eat your friends
with your fingers and
hands, but I say you
ought to eat what
you will - shove it
in your mouth any way
that you can. --Silver Spoon by Grace Slick
Utilizing primary source material, including two accounts written by survivors of the wreck about their nightmarish journey across thousands of miles of the Pacific from the middle of nowhere to their rescue off the coast of Chile, the author has crafted a first-rate adventure story that is also a tale of unbearable tragedy.
"Like a giant bird of prey, the whaleship moved lazily up the western coast of South America, zigging and zagging across a living sea of oil. For that was the Pacific Ocean in 1821, a vast field of warm-blooded oil deposits known as sperm whales."
From the early portions of this saga, which take place before an obstinate, eighty-five foot long sperm whale decides that enough is enough, we learn a vast array of information about the port of Nantucket and the whaleships. The author clearly describes and provides illustrations of the ship's layout, including the names of the masts and individual sails, the crews makeup, including their respective duties and the system of remuneration, their navigational tools, and the graphic details of converting those floating oil deposits into big bucks for the shipowners. I was amazed to discover that the wind patterns dictate that in order to sail from New England around the 'Horn to the Pacific, the whalers would nearly scrape the west coast of Africa! And the fact that ambergris--literally worth more than its weight in gold to perfume manufacturers--was generated as the result of whale constipation.
But it's also fascinating to learn at the end about the later lives of those eight men who somehow survived for three months on the ocean in the worst of circumstances--and how the son of one of those survivors grew up to become a whaler, lent a shipmate his father's account of the Essex disaster, and thus became indirectly responsible for that shipmate, Herman Melville, being inspired to write MOBY DICK...
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good Writing When Exciting But Otherwise BORING April 18 2006
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A monster of a whale is bent on the destruction of your boat. What do you do? This is the decision the crew of the whale ship Essex has to make. Told through the journals and accounts of two surviving crew members the true tale of Moby Dick is detailed and interesting.

Will the crew survive? Will they be able to eat fish and birds or will they have to resort to eating each other? Will they ever find their way back to civilization? Will they be able to conquer their hunger and thirst and ration their supplies or will they give in to temptation and finish off all of them?

Join Nathaniel Philbrick in this tale of survival and woe in the descriptive story of the Essex's crew's endurance and anguish.

Author's Note: Although this review makes the book sound exciting and suspenseful, it focuses on the finer points. Most of the book is descriptions of everyday life and has no suspense or excitement whatsoever. While this book is very informative if you have any need to learn about whaling, it is somewhat boring and I would not recommend it to anyone. If you are looking for suspense or excitement I suggest you read The Alex Rider Adventures by Anthony Horowitz or The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. Thank you for reading this review, I hope that it was helpful.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read this one before you read "In the Heart of the Sea" Dec 2 2010
By Tobias, Son of Floyd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a Children's Librarian I picked this book up in an effort to get 6-8th grade boys to read something other than Goosebumps. Having seen the movie Moby Dick, and reading that this book is the true story that inspired Melville to write that book, I have to admit I also wanted to read this book.

(At the time I was unaware of Philbrick's "In the Heart of the Sea" which was written with an older audience in mind)

The book is written with teens and young adults in mind. What impressed me with the book was the way Philbrick took the time to describe life aboard a whaler in a way that non-nautical types would understand.

If you have no knowledge of whaling in the early 1800s, I'd suggest picking up this book rather than tackling Philbrick's "In the Heart of the Sea" If you've already read "In The Heart of the Sea" thsi book will be a disappointment.

From the beginning, of the book you get the feeling that things are not going to go well. What will amaze people unfamiliar with the story is just how bad things get!

In all, however the story becomes one of sacrifice, survival and faith in not only others but of God. The book is a welcome collection for any middle school's historical fiction collection and quick read for any adult interested 19th century high seas adventure.

If you are an adult who is already familiar with the whale ship Essex or have read other books in this genre then go straight for In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex and skip this book. You'll be disappointed.
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