A number of previous reviewers, although not the Amazon-listed "official" reviews, state that this book is not primarily about whales, and I believe this is entirely correct. That itself did not disappoint me, since I knew before purchasing this that Burnett was not a biologist, much less a cetologist. There are numerous other books by non-scientists about whales, such as Philip Hoare's superb work, that I have read with greatest pleasure. The very odd aspect of Burnett's book, which in the end I found extremely unsettling, is that you often end up feeling that he actually dislikes whales, or perhaps just considers that much too much fuss has been made over them, when history (and presumably historians) are so very much more interesting. There are too many examples to cite but I will take just one. Toward the end of the book, Burnett is discussing the role that popularization of the vocalization of humpback whales (e.g., the recording "Songs of the Humpback Whale") played in public opinion and in the effort to preserve whales (as wide-scale whaling was still underway.) Burnett, over a number of pages, chooses to disparage the idea that the vocalizations are even songs. Indeed, he can only refer to the vocalization in disparaging terms: whining, to take one example, and worse. Note that he never actually discusses what his criteria would be for judging something as a song - he just, in a remarkably snide fashion, decides that an attack on the aesthetics of the humpback sounds is interesting, pertinent, and/or balanced. This same feeling permeates a considerable part of what turned out, for me, to be a book that was unsettling for chiefly wrong reasons.