Sea of Glory

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 February, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 February, 2005, 12:00am

Sea of Glory


by Nathaniel Philbrick


Harper Perennial $139


In 1838, the US government launched the western world's largest voyage discovery: six sailing vessels and 346 men, bound for the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Four years later, the US Exploring Expedition (known as Ex. Ex) returned, having logged 140,000km, surveyed 280 Pacific islands, collected 4,000 zoological specimens (including 2,000 new species), and discovered the continent of Antarctica. But at a human level, the project was a disaster. Not only had 28 men died and two ships been lost, but a series of courts martial had pitted the expedition's leader, Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, against almost every officer under his command. Nathaniel Philbrick combines history with human drama as the story circles the globe from the beaches of the South Pacific to the treacherous waters off Antarctica, the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and, finally, New York.