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The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Seaby Philip Hoare
Winner of the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction
Synopses & Reviews
From his childhood fascination with the gigantic Natural History Museum model of a blue whale to his adult encounters with the living animals in the Atlantic Ocean, the acclaimed writer Philip Hoare has been obsessed with whales. Journeying through human and natural history, The Whale is the result of his voyage of discovery into the heart of this obsession and the book that inspired it: Herman Melville's Moby-Dick.
Taking us deep into their domain, Hoare shows us these mysterious creatures as they have never been seen before. Following in Ishmael's footsteps, he explores the troubled history of man and whale; visits the historic whaling locales of New Bedford, Nantucket, and the Azores; and traces the whale's cultural history from Jonah to Free Willy.
Winner of the prestigious BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, The Whale is an unforgettable and often moving attempt to explain why these strange and beautiful animals still exert such a powerful hold on our imagination.
"A young boy's first glimpse of a whale in captivity matures into a writer's paean to the giants of the deep in this poetic blend of nautical history, literary allusion, personal experience, and natural science by British biographer Hoare (Nol Coward). With Melville as his mentor and Ishmael as his muse, the author haunts one-time whaling town New Bedford, Mass., America's richest city in the mid — 19th century thanks to whale oil and baleen (whalebone); recreates the cramped life on board the whalers of 200 years ago; weaves writing about whales by Emerson and Poe into his narrative; and finally revels in face-to-fin encounters with his obsession, swimming with the whales in the Atlantic. Though Hoare rhapsodizes most about the fabled sperm whale, the world's largest predator with a history dating back 23 million years, he also describes with succinct precision other species — the beaked, blue, fin, humpback, and the killer whale, the sperm whale's only nonhuman predator. This tour de force is a sensuous biography of the great mammals that range on and under Earth's oceans." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
The author of several biographies, Hoare turns his skills to presenting a biography of sorts for the whale, the largest creature with which humans share this Earth. Obsessed with whales since childhood, the author takes readers with him as he explores the roots of his obsession in natural history, human history, and literature (particularly Herman Melville's Moby Dick), in the process visiting the waters off Cape Cod, the Azores, and other locales associated with whales and whaling. This fascinating and often moving book will appeal to any reader whose imagination has been captured by whales. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In the tradition of the bestselling Cod and The Secret Life of Lobsters comes this lively, prize-winning travelogue through the history, literature, and lore of the king of the sea: the whale.
“Unpredictable and amusing and informative and original, cavorting between biology, history, travel writing, and memoir.”
The Whale by Philip Hoare is a enthralling and eye-opening literary leviathan swimming in similar bestselling waters as Cod and The Secret Life of Lobsters. Winner of the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction, The Whale is a lively travelogue through the history, literature, and lore of the king of the sea—the remarkable mammals that we human beings have long been fascinated with, from Moby Dick to Free Willy. Bestselling author and naturalist Bernd Heinrich calls it, “a moving and extraordinary book,” and Hoares sparkling account of swimming with these incredible behemoths will delight whale and wildlife aficionados, lovers of the sea and sea stories, as well as the socially and environmentally conscious reader.
About the Author
Philip Hoare is the author of biographies of Stephen Tennant and Noël Coward and the historical studies Wilde's Last Stand, Spike Island and England's Lost Eden. He is also the writer and presenter of the BBC Arena film, The Hunt for Moby-Dick. He lives in Southampton, England.
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