From his childhood fascination with the gigantic Natural History Museum model of a blue whale, to his abiding love of Moby-Dick, to his adult encounters with the living animals in the Atlantic Ocean, the acclaimed writer Philip Hoare has been obsessed with whales. The Whale is his unforgettable and moving attempt to explain why these strange and beautiful animals exert such a powerful hold on our imagination.
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