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The Whale: In Search Of The Giants Of The Sea (2010)

by Philip Hoare(Favorite Author)
3.89 of 5 Votes: 4
0061976210 (ISBN13: 9780061976216)
review 1: I am a huge fan of whales. I think they are amazing and mysterious creatures. This book was definitely written for people like me, with all sorts of trivia and science of whales nicely woven into a greater, literary description. I learned many things I did not know, which is impressive since I have learned quite a bit. For instance, I loved reading about the whales in whose blubber they have found ancient Inuit arrowheads. This means the whale has been alive for at least over 100 years, probably longer. They have found this on several whales native to the Inuit areas. As the author put it, to think that he saw the same whale that had inspired say, Herman Melville, is just mind-blowing. And that is the thing about whales. The more one learns about them, the more one's mind ... moreis blown! I would also say that this book is a great bedtime read: involved enough to keep your head quiet but not so intense that it will keep you awake. (Finding books in that category/genre is surprisingly difficult, at least for me!) The things I did not like about this book though were enough to knock it down a star. Basically, I think the author, while a very charming, nice person, didn't totally sell me on his love of the whale. As a person who loves whale myself, I am sure that Philip does love whales. (What's there not to love?) But his words didn't quite capture it for me. I think he could have done better. There was something not right about his words and claimed affection for the whale. Similarly, I thought the parallelisms to his mother's illness and death were a bit heavy-handed. I did like the device, and, as a non-fiction author, I thought the potential was huge: love for his mother played a role in his love for whales. But Philip overplayed this hand. He needed to have a lighter touch on it. Depicting scenes of calf whales orphaned by the hunting of their mothers -- not only did I not like having to read about those scenes, but, later one, when Philip's own mom dies, I was kind of mad that I had to bear those stories just so that Philip could set up for this parallelism. I don't want to read about orphaned baby whales, and, I'm sorry, but Philip losing his mom in his 40s or 50s or whatever is not the same. It was a good try though, and, as a fellow non-fiction author, I can see how it was an irresistible opportunity. But he should have controlled himself and executed better. Other than that though, this was a very enjoyable book. I think it would be a nice read for even 14 or 15 year olds, maybe even younger if parents read with their child.
review 2: This book enticed me from the first sentence and I was glued to its pages for days on end. It shows one mans love and passion for the whale and their horrid history caused by man kind up to modern day. Travelling all over the world the book allows the reader to encounter many different whales just as Phillip Hoare has and within these pages he tskes you on a journey.Obviously the book is inspired by Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" in which I have not yet read but intend to do so due to this book. I myself have developed an interest in marine life and this book has just increased it more! less
Reviews (see all)
Amazing, I would recommend it not only if you like whales but also history and literature.
I would give this 6 stars if I could. Anxious to read Moby Dick again after this book.
Incredibly poignant, elegant prose. An absolute treasure.
Simultaneously engrossing and disturbing.
Wow, whales are fucking amazing.
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