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Book Review: "In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex", by Nathaniel Philbrick

I brought this back to my parent's place during quarantine, and decided that since my laptop and phone were both out of battery from using it too much, that I should maybe go read a book. This was the last book I haven't read previously (because I didn't bring all that many back), and so I decided to give it a go.

It's not bad. It's a true, non-fiction tale of sailors getting rammed by a sperm whale (which are so named because the “spermateci” or sperm whale oil located in a gland in the head oxidizes into a waxy substance like semen), and sail half the circumference of the Pacific Ocean or something because they think cannibals live on some nearby islands and go the long way around. It's quite a tale of human survival, an (almost) extinct industry, and what the ocean must have been like to people a few technological generations back.

I think the Titanic has replaced the Essex as the fate most people fear when they go out to sea, and nowadays things are safe enough where you generally don't have to worry about too much as a normal passenger. I'm at least under the impression that usually it's extreme negligence or stupidity that gets people into horrible situations at sea in modern times. So it's interesting to see a tale from another time, really a time before another time, and to gain a sense of connection to the events around that tragedy.

P.S. as harvesting whales is illegal in everywhere except Japan, it's interesting to see so many aspects of sperm whales being valued, including sperm whale poop, sperm whale vomit, and sperm whale intestinal stones (which may be the poop).