America's first frontier was not the West; it was the seaand no one writes more eloquently about that watery wilderness than Nathaniel Philbrick. In his bestselling In the Heart of the Sea Philbrick probed the nightmarish dangers of the vast Pacific. Now, in an epic sea adventure, he writes about one of the most ambitious voyages of discovery the Western world has ever seenthe U.S. Exploring Expedition of 1838 1842. On a scale that dwarfed the journey of Lewis and Clark, six magnificent sailing vessels and a crew of hundreds set out to map the entire Pacific Oceanand ended up naming the newly discovered continent of Antarctica, collecting what would become the basis of the Smithsonian Institution, and much more.
Nathaniel Philbrick's Sea of Glory maintains that Wilkes's arrogance and insecurity even managed to undermine the importance of the expedition's achievements. And Mr. Philbrick provides much evidence of the man's fantastically self-destructive tendencies. While much of this book follows the exploring expedition's exciting and varied adventures, its closing chapters show how the legacy of the Ex. Ex., as it was called, has been obscured. "For more than a century," Mr. Philbrick writes, "Wilkes has stood astride the legacy of the Ex. Ex. like an inscrutable colossus, a forbidding impediment to all who would want to know more." Janet Maslin