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Nathaniel Philbrick

Biography

Nathaniel Philbrick

Nathaniel Philbrick was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he attended Linden Elementary School and Taylor Allderdice High School. He earned a BA in English from Brown University and an MA in America Literature from Duke University, where he was a James B. Duke Fellow. He was Brown University’s first Intercollegiate All-American sailor in 1978, the same year he won the Sunfish North Americans in Barrington, RI. After working as an editor at Sailing World magazine, he wrote and edited several books about sailing, including THE PASSIONATE SAILOR, SECOND WIND and YAAHTING: A Parody.

In 1986, Philbrick moved to Nantucket with his wife Melissa and their two children. In 1994, he published his first book about the island’s history, AWAY OFF SHORE, followed by a study of the Nantucket’s native legacy, ABRAM'S EYE. He was the founding director of Nantucket’s Egan Maritime Institute and is still a research fellow at the Nantucket Historical Association.

In 2000, Philbrick published the New York Times bestseller IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, which won the National Book Award for nonfiction. The book was the basis of the 2015 movie of the same title directed by Ron Howard. It also inspired a 2001 Dateline special on NBC as well as the 2010 PBS American Experience film “Into the Deep” by Ric Burns.

His next book SEA OF GLORY was published in 2003 and won the Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Naval History Prize and the Albion-Monroe Award from the National Maritime Historical Society. The New York Times bestseller MAYFLOWER was a finalist for both the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in History and the Los Angeles Times Book Award, won the Massachusetts Book Award for nonfiction, and was named one the ten “Best Books of 2006” by the New York Times Book Review. MAYFLOWER is currently in development as a limited series on FX.

In 2010, he published the New York Times bestseller THE LAST STAND, which was named a New York Times Notable book, a 2010 Montana Book Award Honor Book, and a 2011 ALA Notable Book.  Philbrick was an on-camera consultant to the two-hour PBS American Experience film “Custer’s Last Stand” by Stephen Ives. The book is currently being adapted for a ten hour, multi-part television series. Philbrick’s WHY READ MOBY-DICK? (2011) was a finalist for the New England Society Book Award and was named to the 2012 Listen List for Outstanding Audiobook Narration from the Reference and User Services Association, a division of the ALA.

In 2013 Philbrick published the New York Times bestseller BUNKER HILL: A City, a Siege, a Revolution, which was awarded both the 2013 New England Book Award for Non-Fiction and the 2014 New England Society Book Award as well as the 2014 Distinguished Book Award of the Society of Colonial Wars. BUNKER HILL has been optioned by Warner Bros. for feature film adaptation with Ben Affleck attached to direct.

Philbrick’s next book, VALIANT AMBITION: George Washington, Benedict Arnold and the Fate of the American Revolution, is slated for publication in May 2016.

Philbrick has also received the Byrne Waterman Award from the Kendall Whaling Museum, the Samuel Eliot Morison Award from the USS Constitution Museum, the Nathaniel Bowditch Award from the American Merchant Marine Museum, the William Bradford Award from the Pilgrim Society, the Boston History Award from the Bostonian Society, the Cushing Award from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Ruth Ratner Miller Memorial Award from the Friends of the Concord Free Public Library, the America and Sea Award from Mystic Seaport, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New England Historic Genealogical Society.  He has received honorary doctorates from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and Roger Williams University.

Philbrick’s writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe. He has appeared on the "Today Show," the "Morning Show," "Dateline," "PBS’s American Experience," C-SPAN and NPR. He and his wife still live on Nantucket.

Nathaniel Philbrick

Books by Nathaniel Philbrick

by Nathaniel Philbrick - History, Nonfiction

In September 1776, the vulnerable Continental Army under an unsure George Washington evacuates New York after a devastating defeat by the British Army. Three weeks later, Benedict Arnold miraculously succeeds in postponing the British naval advance down Lake Champlain that might have ended the war. Four years later, Washington has vanquished his demons and Arnold has fled to the enemy after a foiled attempt to surrender the American fortress at West Point to the British. After four years of war, America is forced to realize that the real threat to its liberties might not come from without but from within.

by Nathaniel Philbrick - History, Nonfiction

Nathaniel Philbrick brings a fresh perspective to the story of the Boston battle that ignited the American Revolution. He finds new characters, and new facets to familiar ones. The real work of choreographing rebellion falls to a 33-year-old physician named Joseph Warren, who emerges as the on-the-ground leader of the Patriot cause and is fated to die at Bunker Hill.

by Nathaniel Philbrick - History, Literary Criticism, Nonfiction

Nathaniel Philbrick skillfully navigates Herman Melville's world and illuminates MOBY-DICK's humor and unforgettable characters --- finding the thread that binds Ishmael and Ahab to our own time and, indeed, to all times. 

written by Nathaniel Philbrick, read by Edward Herrmann - History, Nonfiction

The ordeal of the whaleship Essex was an event as mythic in the 19th century as the sinking of the Titanic was in the 20th. In 1819, the Essex left Nantucket for the South Pacific with 20 crew members aboard. In the middle of the South Pacific the ship was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale. The crew drifted for more than 90 days in three tiny whaleboats, succumbing to weather, hunger, disease and ultimately turning to drastic measures in the fight for survival. Nathaniel Philbrick uses little-known documents to reveal the chilling events surrounding this epic maritime disaster.

by Nathaniel Philbrick - History, Nonfiction

The ordeal of the whaleship Essex was an event as mythic in the nineteenth century as the sinking of the Titanic was in the twentieth. In 1819, the Essex left Nantucket for the South Pacific with twenty crew members aboard. In the middle of the South Pacific the ship was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale. The crew drifted for more than ninety days in three tiny whaleboats, succumbing to weather, hunger, disease, and ultimately turning to drastic measures in the fight for survival. An intense and mesmerizing read, In the Heart of the Sea is a monumental work of history forever placing the Essex tragedy in the American historical canon.