- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Puffin; Reprint edition (March 29 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0142400688
- ISBN-13: 978-0142400685
- Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 1.3 x 19.7 cm
- Shipping Weight: 358 g
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #542,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex Paperback – Mar 29 2004
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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 the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
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 The lengthy section of notes following the text has been omitted, and the extensive bibliography has been replaced by a short, briefly annotated list of related reading.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 the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
Top customer reviews
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...
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This one is tougher to write than any other review because while I liked the book immensely I cannot in good conscience give it the rating I think it deserves. See, I bought it for my kids ages 9 and 12, and they did not like it--it bored them.
One is a voracious reader, but whales and sea stories are not her thing. The nine year old likes sea stories, but reading is not his thing and much to my chagrin, this appealed to neither child.
After two weeks of asking them to read it, I started reading about 10 pages a night to them before bed. It was a sleep aid for one, and had the other reading her own book. After four or five nights, they were avoiding me at bed time--"don't you and Mom have something serious to talk about?" What's an old Harbormaster to do then?
I kept reading after they went to sleep and found it so enjoyable I ordered Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea--the unabridged version for adults. Waiting upon its arrival.
Is this book impressive enough to read? Yes, if you are the right audience.
The details of the whaling industry were more than adequate for the kids and adults alike. You can tell the author did his homework and the story was dear to him as a resident of Nantucket where the Essex hailed from. Like his other works, this is well written taking you on a well-paced narrative with enough background interspersed to inform as well as entertain. It far exceeds the pacing of other sea stories which I review elsewhere.
What makes this special is the author takes you down the path of both good and bad decisions made in the whaleboats after the sinking. The contrast between a decisive and a democratic leader meant the difference between life and death. The distinct difference in leadership between the Captain, first, and second mates in charge of the whaleboats showed predictive results in who survived, who did not, and even later career success. That Philbrick ably tests leadership styles with discernible outcomes is probably lost on the younger reader. The selflessness exhibited by one character is haunting but suggests a level of cowardice to see his hunger end. There is also a group of survivors who choose smartly outside of the command decisions and therefore increase their probability of survival greatly. There is selfishness, despair, courage, prejudice, and faith. Good and bad traits of humanity come to trial in a life and death ordeal.
Philbrick discusses what it takes to survive and the mentality of what it took to survive 90 days at sea. This is worth reading to discussing at length with your own kids...when they are ready--for it is applicable to when they are tested. In a world where kids have few chores, are coddled, and have little to worry about--this would be a heck of a lesson if you can teach it.
Give it an equivocal rating--I despise my own inability to give this more than a mediocre rating it is a better book than that for the young, but can't bring myself to either pan the book or rave about it. If the book is targeted to the younger set and can't hold their attention then it can't be a 5 or 4 star. Despite my rating, Philbrick is a gifted author and I hope he does more of his American history books for the younger audience.
In the culture of the United States today, I see very few young men that serve as an example of what I want my sons to become. Books like these give us the examples of what it means to be a man's man! They also have a dad who is a great example - another novelty in our culture for which we are thankful!
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