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The Sea of Glory Audio CD – Unabridged, 2003
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An unprecedented voyage of discovery by the American Navy that would do for the Pacific Ocean what Lewis and Clark had done for the American West. A perfect subject for a writer with Nat Philbrick's feeling for 19th-century America, his rich prose style, and his abiding love for the sea and for the particular lives of men under sail. IN THE HEART OF THE SEA was a Sunday Times Number One bestseller in hardback and was hugely praised by the critics. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Nathaniel Philbrick is a historian and broadcaster who has written extensively about sailing. He is director of the Egan Institute of Maritime Studies on Nantucket Island, and a research fellow at the Nantucket Historical Association. He was a consultant on the movie Moby Dick. Aged 41, he has lived on Nantucket with his wife and two children since 1986. His previous book, In the Heart of the Sea was a Top Ten best seller in hardback and paperback. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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"Sea of Glory" is truly a spectacular rendition of events, as Philbrick portrays the deterioration of the relationship between Commander and his men, while journeying through some of most inhospitable seas in the world. Wilkes comes across as a near megalomaniac and odious character (almost immediately after beginning the expedition, he promoted himself Captain!), belittling the achievements of his underlings and inflating his own. It is a miracle that he was succeeded in bringing the expedition home largely unscathed. Nor does the story end there. The final chapters reveal the trials and tribulations of Wilkes (and other members of the expedition) as he realizes that he may be held accountable for his actions. Upon return of the expedition, there were no fewer than 5 court martials involving Wilkes and officers of the vessels comprising the expedition, largely petty incidents raised by Wilkes as revenge for perceived slights by the officers.
Philbrick writes extremely well, in a very fluid and easy manner, and it takes little effort to read. Large portions of the book are based upon the journal of Midshipman Reynolds, once an ardent admirer of his commander but by the conclusion of the expedition despising him. Philbrick superbly brings this out, contrasting parts of the journal from early on in the voyage to sections of the journal written much later, the journal's author much jaded and embittered by the actions of his commander. But Philbrick does not focus only on Wilkes; the achievements of the expedition are also discussed, and the sometimes incredibly imposing situations the expedition faces, such as the attack by natives on the expedition in the Fiji Islands which resulted in the death of Wilkes' nephew. A book of this type benefits from having illustrations and maps, and on neither account does it fail. There are a number of maps produced in the book, although I have to say the main map (in the preface), which traces the voyage of the expedition throughout the 5 years it spent abroad, is a little hard to follow due to the back and forth nature of parts of the expedition, and also when the expedition split up for short periods of time. There are two sections of very nice illustrations which show the main characters involved and some events that occurred.
"Sea of Glory" is a true story that ranks alongside the best of adventure books, and I cannot recommend this book highly enough. A worthy addition to the library.
Lasting four years, from 1838-1842, and resulting in the formal discovery, naming and mapping of 1,500 miles of the Antarctic Continent, the expedition charted 280 Pacific Islands, including the first charting of the Fiji Group, 800 miles of the Oregon coast, a 100 mile stretch of the Columbia River and the overland route from Oregon to San Francisco.
Marked by severe acrimony between its commander, Charles Wilkes, and 90% of his officer corps, this accomplishment is a testament to the perseverance of all of the expedition's 527 members. It covered thousands upon thousands of miles and marked the first time any single exploring expedition touched every continental land mass. In the US Exploring Expedition's myriad of accomplishments lies the projection of US influence into the Pacific, the eventual acquisition of Midway Island and ultimately the State of Hawaii, and equally important, the recognition of the military value of Puget Sound, Pearl Harbor and San Francisco Bay. Wilkes was one of the first to understand that the West Coast of North America would dramatically impact access to Asia and influence the development of the Pacific Ocean.
A noteworthy work by a gifted writer, this is a breathtaking account of one of history's greatest adventures.