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Nathaniel Philbrick Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

The Passionate Sailor (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
Away Off Shore (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
Abram's Eyes (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Second Wind (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
In the Heart of the Sea (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sea of Glory (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Revenge of the Whale (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mayflower (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Mayflower Papers (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Mayflower and the Pilgrims' New World (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Last Stand (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
Why Read Moby-Dick? (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bunker Hill (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
The First Thanksgiving (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
Valiant Ambition (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
Ben's Revolution (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
In the Hurricane's Eye (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
Travels with George (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Nathaniel Philbrick is a historical fiction writer best known for his Heart of the Sea novel. In 2015, a movie, Heart of the Sea, was developed based on this novel. Some of his other works, including Mayfair, Sea of Glory, and Revenge of the Whale, have earned him numerous awards in the writing world. Nathaniel lives in Nantucket Island, where he enjoys sailing in the waters around the island whenever he is not engaged in his writing.

In the Heart of the Sea

In The Heart of the Sea is a story about a shipwreck and the events that follow. In 1820, a Wales ship named Essex set sail on a whales’ voyage. The routine journey from Nantucket across the Pacific turned tragic when an eight-ton whale rammed the ship a few times, causing it to sink. Some of the crew decided to seek refuge in the South American coast, which was 3,000 miles away out of fear of cannibals that were said to inhabit the islands on the west. The voyage from the shipwreck to the south coast took 90 days, and through the horrendous conditions in the sea, the survivors succumbed one after another to disease, hunger, and thirst. In the end, only eight of the crew members survived. The survivors included the five Nantucket men who chose to stay together and the three offshore men who decided to stay at the island.

On this tragic voyage, the Nantucket ship was under the command of a new captain, George Pollard. African Americans had also replaced the Nantucket sailors, so the crew was relatively new. For many of them, this was their first voyage. Trouble for this old ship started early in the journey when it hit a storm, and the impact almost tipped the boat over. The inexperienced crew was terrified, but the captain managed to the right the ship, even though his commands came later than expected. The first experience was a foretaste of the trouble that the once lucky boat was going to experience on its last voyage.

In the 19th and a part of the 20th century, whales were hunted for their spermaceti. The gooey substance was used to lubricate machines and light lamps. A normal-sized whale would give close to 500 gallons of the spermaceti, and this would be worth a reasonable sum, especially during the industrial revolution. Whalers also extracted ambergris, a digestive liquid used in the making of perfumes. The sailors discarded the rest of the whale littering the pacific with the tons of dead meat. Relief for the whales only came when petroleum was discovered and used in place of the spermaceti.

Philbrick describes the process used to kill the whales that were many times bigger than their killers. The gory details and the awe as whalers watched the whales die and float at sea. While whales are mostly non-aggressive, the whale that put an end to the Essex ship reads like it was on a mission to avenge the many whales ruthlessly killed by the hunters. Philbrick interweaves this tale with a detailed story on the nature of whales and the expertise of the Nantucket whalers. The author also highlights the conditions that led to their survival while others died at sea. The story is beautifully written, and Philbrick brings this essential part of American history to life. The author’s understanding and description of the events read like he was part of the crew that witnessed all that happened in the ill-fated ship.


Mayflower is a story of how America began the Mayflower voyage, the Plymouth Colony, and the truth behind the national anthem. From this story, you will get to learn about the Pilgrims journey that goes on fifty-five years after the first Thanksgiving. You will also get a deeper understanding of the relationship between the Natives and Pilgrims and the grudges that remain, many years after the pilgrims set foot in America.

The Pilgrims wanted nothing but freedom to worship without persecution, but they were not getting that in their mother country. To get this freedom, they set on a difficult journey on the Mayflower before landing on the New England shores. In this new territory, the Pilgrims struggled, but the Native Americans came to their rescue. This kind gesture marked the birth of Thanksgiving, an important holiday in the American calendar.

While most stories of the Pilgrims end with the first Thanksgiving, Philbrick takes the reader back to the times leading to the voyage and a few generations later after coming to America. The first part of the book is an account of pre-Mayfair time spent in Holland and England. The trouble the Pilgrims had to endure in the quest to avoid persecution while finding financing in their mother country. The story then takes the reader through the ten-week voyage aboard the Mayflower, the first winter in Portsmouth, and the King Phillip’s war that took place forty years after the Pilgrims set foot in Portsmouth.

From the book, it is clear that the first Thanksgiving did not result in a happily-ever-after affair given the numerous conflicts and instances of treachery recorded. The author tells the story of the upstanding descendants as well as those whose behavior was unbecoming. There is a detailed account of the happenings in the war. This war was monumental as it led to the annihilation of indigenous people and the destruction of the European-Indian relations. The greed of the children of pilgrims who wanted the land and forgot the kindness the indigenous inhabitants extended to the parents and grandparents comes clear through the pages.

The Mayflower story comes with facts that make the book all too interesting. The author alternates between the big picture and individual stories making this a stimulating historical piece that reads more like fiction. Philbrick includes the approximate number of the Mayflower descendants in the country at the turn of the century and some of the things Americans should reflect on whenever they celebrate Thanksgiving. The book is an exciting read, and Philbrick’s way of telling the story makes it easy to study and internalize this critical part of American History.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Nathaniel Philbrick

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