Sea of Glory

  • by Nathaniel Philbrick
  • Narrated by Scott Brick
  • 12 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In 1838, the U.S. government launched the largest discovery voyage the Western world had ever seen; six sailing vessels and 346 men bound for the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Four years later, the U.S. Exploring Expedition, or Ex. Ex. as it was known, returned with an astounding array of accomplishments and discoveries: 87,000 miles logged, 280 Pacific islands surveyed, 4,000 zoological specimens collected, including 2,000 new species, and the discovery of the continent of Antarctica. And yet at a human level, the project was a disaster. Not only had 28 men died and 2 ships been lost, but a series of sensational court-martials had also ensued that pitted the expedition's controversial leader, Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, against almost every officer under his command. Though comparable in importance and breadth of success to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Ex. Ex. has been largely forgotten. Now, the celebrated Nathaniel Philbrick recreates this chapter of American maritime history in all its triumph and scandal. Like the award-winning In the Heart of the Sea, Sea of Glory combines meticulous history with spellbinding human drama as it circles the globe from the palm-fringed beaches of the South Pacific to the treacherous waters off Antarctica and to the stunning beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and, finally, to a court-martial aboard a ship anchored off New York City.

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What the Critics Say

"A breathtaking account of one of history's greatest adventures." (Entertainment Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A good solid voyage of discovery

If you like historical non-fiction about interesting expeditions, this should be a good listen (I read the paper version). Lt. Wilkes is a classic flawed leader, aloof, somewhat cruel, but his determination drove his crew on a great voyage though he struggled for notoriety. The amazing collection of artifacts that Wilkes brought home formed the foundation of the Smithsonian collection. I really like the detail of maritime life circa 1840, and Philbrick delivers. His writing makes even provisioning ships interesting. His previous book "Heart of the Sea" was a bit more gripping (albeit more harsh), but "Sea of Glory" is a very good book by a great historical writer.
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- Ken Sundermeyer

Something’s Just not Speaking to me…

The Good – I am amazed that I never had heard of the ExEx before this book. Very disappointed in our public education system for that. From a purely historic point of view I liked the book. I liked learning about the expedition because I needed to learn about something so monumental. I made a few book marks for reference that I can return to later, but overall the book just didn’t give me what I had expected.

The Not So Good – To be fair I’m going to have to give this book a second listen, but on first pass it just lacks something. The book told a lot of the human stories, but didn’t tell much of the science stories at least not in much detail. The author went through great pains to explain in telling detail why a certain officer did a certain thing, but he didn’t go into much story telling about the science discoveries. This really didn’t strike me until the end of the book where he listed the hundreds of samples the expedition brought back with them. It left me saying; “why didn’t you tell more about those samples and how and where they came from?" I'm not sure if I should follow that question with an "ugh!" or a "duh!"?

The Narration - Scott Brick is one of my favorite narrators, but for some reason I don’t think he was the right fit for this particular book’s writing style. Not that it was bad by any measure, but I think someone with a deeper voice and slower cadence could have made the book more interesting? Perhaps a Brit don't you know? Although I’m sure someone would take umbrage to that given the national pride of the subject matter.

The Overall – Sea of Glory is okay and was fairly good overall. I definitely learned something, which I always appreciate. I will listen to it again to see if I missed something that would push my rating a bit higher, but I'm not sure that will happen. In closing, I’m not disappointed by the book, but I’m not overjoyed by it either.
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- Matthew

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-13-2005
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio