Winner of the BBC’s Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, British author Hoare’s illustrated biography of one of the most magnificent beasts on the planet is a deeply personal pilgrimage across the globe, from the gigantic models of a leviathan at London’s Natural History Museum to his first glimpse of a killer whale in the Azores, where he swam with a sperm whale. Inspired by a careful reading of Melville’s Moby-Dick, Hoare illuminates the intimate yet troubled relationship between whales and men, from a 16th-century tale of a stranded whale “100 fathoms long” that took four days to die to P. T. Barnum’s museum on Broadway where beluga whales were exhibited in 1861. Hoare’s assiduous research also includes the rise of the whaling industry and our more recent efforts to protect these ancient mammals.
Richly stocked with whale lore, studded with glittering shards of natural history and social science, The Whale is also peppered with Hoare’s unbridled enthusiasm for his subject. In this compendious account, his passion for whales is infectious, delivering an idiosyncratic mingling of autobiography, anthropology, and archaeology in an enthralling yet rigorously researched volume.
“It cast a spell onme that endured for days. This is the book he was born to write, a classic of its kind. What poetry…and what a balm for the soul.” — The Observer (London)