“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 Hoare’s 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.
Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2010: After reading Moby Dick, author Philip Hoare was so captivated by the subject that he spent years trying to fathom the planet’s most enormous and enigmatic of creatures. Hoare's admitted mania for whales led him to write Leviathan, or the Whale—which was awarded the 2009 Samuel Johnson Prize, Britain’s most prestigious award for nonfiction. The book has finally migrated to this side of the Atlantic under a new title, The Whale. Hoare is not a scientist, but rather a biographer whose subjects have tended toward highbrow figures like Noel Coward and Oscar Wilde. In approaching cetaceans, the author’s non-scientific background works to great advantage. Similar to Melville, Hoare has captured a wide range of historical and scientific facts about whales, but has chosen to present them through an extremely powerful instrument--the literary imagination. The result is a deeply moving and thought-provoking biography of the planet’s toughest, yet most vulnerable of prehistoric survivors. The Whale takes us well beyond the limits of what we can see, hear or otherwise objectively "know" about whales, and offers a much more vivid sense of their true magnitude. --Lauren Nemroff