Teacher Guide

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex Lesson Plan

Introduction to In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex is a New York Times bestselling book by Nathaniel Philbrick about the 1820 wreck of the whaleship Essex and the efforts of her crew to survive. The book, which was based on accounts written by three members of the crew of the Essex, was first published in 2000 by Viking Press. It won the 2000 National Book Award for Nonfiction and was adapted into a 2015 film of the same name. It served as inspiration for both a 2001 Dateline special on NBC and the 2010 PBS film “Into the Deep.”

The story of the Essex is well-known and served as an inspiration for literary works such as Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. However, Philbrick draws not...

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