Did you know that whales in recent years have been found – well over 150 years old – with 19th century harpoon heads still lodged in their blubber? Or that sperm whales can kill prey with 200db sonic blasts from their heads? Hoare, although born with an innate fear of deep water, has had a lifelong obsession with the family Cetacean (ahem, as have I) & has compiled a riveting account of what is, essentially, the human history of the whale. Filled with tales of (disgusting) ambergris, hefty literary allusions to Melville, accounts of humanity’s ongoing, (mostly) unhealthy whale mania, & a breath-taking first-hand account of Hoare’s own experience of swimming in open ocean with the world’s largest, loudest animal. An incredibly fascinating book – one of my all-time favorites. -Seth
“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.
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.
“Genius … THE WHALE (is) a rhapsodic mediation on all things cetacean. Hoare is always on the lookout for the revealing detail. He also has a finely tuned sense of perspective and pacing.” — Nathaniel Philbrick, New York Times Book Review
“[Hoare’s] work is rigorous, something every serious student of whales--and, more widely conceived, of the natural world--will want to have at hand.” — Washington Post
“Hoare is a splendid writer and a beguiling guide. I found the spell (he) casts powerful and difficult to shake.” — Cleveland Plain Dealer
“You don’t have to love Moby Dick to love this book. But if you do, THE WHALE is probably one of the most sublime reading experiences you’ll have this year.” — NPR's All Things Considered
“A love letter to the ‘largest, loudest, oldest’ mammal ever to have existed, Brit biographer Hoare’s book romps through science, history and literature to chronicle his obsession with the mighty whale. Salted with astounding facts (the calls of blue whales were one mistaken for earthquakes), this is an exhilarating valentine.” — People
“Philip Hoare’s THE WHALE is everything you want from a book. It is unpredictable and amusing and informative and original, cavorting between biology, history, travel writing, and memoir with an engaging sense of the subject’s charisma. And the book is even handsome.” — Mark Kurlansky, author of SALT and COD
“This singular, magnificent book inspires both awe and shame—awe of the whales, shame of the human species that has tried to destroy them. In the end, Hoare’s virtuosic sympathy for his subject makes you believe in the better angels of our nature.” — Alex Ross, bestselling author of THE REST IS NOISE
“Philip Hoare’s writing is quite untrammelled by convention and opens up astonishing views at every turn.” — W.G. Sebald
“A wonderful read!... Hoare magnificently weaves together his own experiences with stories about literary giants whose writings were inspired by whales—Melville, Hawthone, and Thoreau—and he captures the utter beauty, size, and power of the whale.” — Lynne Cox, author of GRAYSON
“A love letter to the ‘largest, loudest, oldest’ mammal ever to have existed....Salted with astounding facts...this is an exhilarating valentine.” — People