The Last Whalers: Three Years in the Far Pacific with a Courageous Tribe and a Vanishing Way of Life

The Last Whalers: Three Years in the Far Pacific with a Courageous Tribe and a Vanishing Way of Life

by Doug Bock Clark


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The epic story of the world's last subsistence whalers and the threats posed to the way of life that has sustained them for five centuries

At a time when the pace of global change has eradicated thousands of unique cultures, The Last Whalers tells the stunning inside story of the Lamalerans, an ancient tribe of 1,500 people who for at least five centuries have made their home on a volcanic island so remote that other Indonesians call it "The Land Left Behind." Now their way of life as the last subsistence whalers on earth, under assault from the allure of modernity and the rapacious forces of technology and the worldwide economy, teeters on the brink of collapse.

Award-winning journalist Doug Bock Clark, who lived and sailed with the Lamalerans across three years, takes us into the heart of this human drama. The center of the tribe's life is the hunt, which will feed them throughout the lean season. Clark weaves together the stories of a fatherless whaler striving to earn his harpoon and support his ailing grandparents; two star-crossed lovers kept apart by a family feud; a bright young woman enticed by the opportunities available to her off-island; a new widower mourning his wife of many decades and struggling to hand down the Ways of the Ancestors to his sons; and a worried shaman trying to undo a deadly curse.

In The Last Whalers, we experience the tumultuous changes being wrought on indigenous peoples across the globe through a power and moving portrait of these unforgettable families. With breathtaking prose and brilliant, deeply empathetic storytelling that is possible only after years of immersive reporting, Clark has given us a story for the ages about the bravery of a tribe desperate to extend the survival of their remarkable culture beyond these pages.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316390620
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 01/08/2019
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 89,190
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Doug Bock Clark is a writer whose articles have appeared or are forthcoming in the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, National Geographic, GQ, Wired, Rolling Stone, The New Republic, and elsewhere. He won the 2017 Reporting Award, was a finalist for the 2016 Mirror Award, and has been awarded two Fulbright Fellowships, a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and an 11th Hour Food and Farming Fellowship. Clark has been interviewed about his work on CNN, BBC, NPR, and ABC's 20/20. He is a Visiting Scholar at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

Table of Contents

The Lamalerans xi

Maps xiv

A Note on the Text xix

Prologue: The Apprentice's Lesson 3

Part 1 1994-2014

1 The Lamaleran Odyssey 11

2 At Play in the Graveyard of Whales 35

3 The Child-Eating Eel and the Curse of the Black Goat 65

4 The Cleansing of Harmful Language 96

5 This, My Son, Is How You Kill a Whale 121

6 The Laughter 154

7 The Way of the Lamafa 173

Part 2 2015

8 A New Year 195

9 Nekat 209

10 The Marriage 223

11 In the Middle of the Typhoon of Life 242

Part 3 2016

12 The New Kéna Pukã 267

13 Against the Leviathan 284

Epilogue 309

About This Project 315

Acknowledgments 321

Notes 323

Glossary 345

What People are Saying About This

New York Times bestselling author of Tribe and The Perfect Storm - Sebastian Junger

"Doug Bock Clark has delivered us an amazing account of an almost mythological fight—man versus leviathan—and in vivid prose he reveals the most profound truths about both how strong we are and how fragile we are. Part journalism, part anthropology, The Last Whalers is a spectacular and deeply empathetic attempt to understand a vanishing world. I absolutely loved this magnificent book.”

New York Times bestselling author of The Stranger in the Woods - Michael Finkel

“This lyrically written and richly observed book not only tells of the Lamalerans’ spectacular feats of seamanship, but also demonstrates, with heartrending power, what all of us will lose when the march of modernity touches humanity’s final tradition-ruled outposts.”

New York Times bestselling author of On Trails: An Exploration - Robert Moor

“Equal parts rollicking adventure and careful anthropology, The Last Whalers opened up a fresh and fascinating world to me. From the very first lines, I was riveted.”

New York Times bestselling author of 13 Hours and Lost in Shangri-La - Mitchell Zuckoff

“The Last Whalers is a monumental achievement. With luminous writing and expert reporting, Doug Bock Clark provides a rare view into our shared human past, from exhilarating whale hunts to intimate family dramas. In doing so, he reveals the complex lives of men and women whose ancient culture teeters between the eternal teachings of the Ancestors and the pressures and enticements of modernity.”

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The Last Whalers: Three Years in the Far Pacific with a Courageous Tribe and a Vanishing Way of Life 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
bookwomen37 17 days ago
I enjoyed reading this book. The author has spent many years living among the Lamalerans in Indonesia. When the book begins the tribe is surviving by fishing and whaling. As the years pass the modern world begins to arrive. The older members of the tribe worry about the younger members and the loss of tradition. The younger members have to decide whether to stay in the village or work in the cities. The author does a very good job with introducing a few key members of the tribe and following their lives and staying objective. At the end he does speculate about the continued impact of globalization. Enjoy this immersive journey.