Jack London wrote about it. Herman Melville wrote about it.
Rachel Carson won a National Book Award for her description of it. For Ernest Hemingway, it was a Nobel Prize.
Inspiring thousands of years of painting, writing, and
myth-making, not to mention empire-building, yet still as in-
scrutable as the farthest galaxy, the sea captures the human
imagination like nothing else on earth. With such a legacy,
could anyone say anything new about it?
Nathaniel Philbrick could.
Philbrick’s 1999 book In the Heart of the Sea was a best seller,
won the National Book Award, and became a Ron Howard–
helmed movie starring Chris Hemsworth. Sea of Glory (2001)
won the Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Naval History
Prize and the Albion-Monroe Award from the National Maritime Historical Society. Mayflower (2001) was a finalist for
both the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in History and the Los Angeles
Times Book Award and winner of the Massachusetts Book
Award for nonfiction. Along with numerous books of history
for adults and children, he has written about the joys of reading Moby-Dick and about his early career as a championship
I talked to Nathaniel in Raleigh, North Carolina; he was
in town to do a reading. We discussed narrative nonfiction,
academic vs. popular history, the place of classics in popular
culture, voting in America, and why he will never be an actor.