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Publishers WeeklyStarred Review.
Darby, an Australian journalist who has covered the whaling industry and the international politics of whaling since the founding of the International Whaling Commission in the early 1960s, has produced a definitive work on the past and the present of whaling. Although he does provide background material from the 19th century and earlier, his emphasis is on the 20th century industrial whaling boom, when flensing stations on shore and on ships processed dozens of whales each day. With each new technology (faster steamships, mechanical harpoons), more and more species became vulnerable-Darby, in fact, organizes his history by species, beginning with the Right Whales-and heartbreaking accounts of the killing make this excellent book a difficult read. Aside from usual suspects (the Soviet Union and Japan in the Southern Ocean), Darby finds whaling piracy in the birth of the famed Onassis family fortune. Darcy tracks international efforts to curb whaling, which have been stymied through the years by diplomatic maneuvers and outright fraud, concluding that decades of work by both ecologists and governments have still not guaranteed that any species will survive human predation; one hopes his exceptional history will act as a bulwark.
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