Nathan Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea is an account of the voyage of the whaleship Essex–the story which is the basis for Melville’s novel Moby Dick. This is a fascinating and well-researched account of the 1819 ramming of the Essex by a gigantic sperm whale and of it’s subsequent sinking. The crew of the ship, forced into small whale boats, attempted to cross the vast reaches of the pacific Ocean in hopes of finding land or rescue by another ship. The account of their battle to survive their ordeal and the decisions they were forced to make are both harrowing and tragic. Philbrick relates their horrific story with a concise and scholarly approach. He enhances the story with descriptions of the life history of whales, descriptions of the whaling industry and life aboard a whaling ship in the 1800′s. He bases much of his story on the diaries of two of the survivors of the tragedy. This is a powerful, well-written narrative about endurance and the will to survive and overcome hardships–a story that will stay with you long after you have read the final chapter.