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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2008
First things first: "Sperm Whales: Social Evolution in the Ocean" is a marvellously written in-depth account of every aspect of the sperm whale. I just loved the enthusiasm with which mr. Whitehead has written it. His professionalism is undoubted and his academic level is very high. But above all: he can write!
Some background info on myself: I am Dutch, English is not my mother tongue. I graduated from university, so I am quite capable of reading academic texts. I love reading English and have read quite a lot of books in that wonderful language. I have recently become more interested in marine life in general and marine mammals in specific.
What makes "Sperm Whales: Social Evolution in the Ocean" such a good book? I am not a marine mammal specialist, but I still considered the book quite readable. I admit it was not an easy read. Especially chapter 6 "Sperm Whale Societies", which is about concentrations, groups and social units, I thought very difficult and rather dry. The high level of references sometimes disturb the fluidity of the text. The book was very interesting and packed with information. In a fascinating way mr. Whitehead took me into the depths of the oceans along with these amazing animals. His level of writing is very academic, but his enthusiasm about these animals is reflected by almost each and every sentence. I highly recommend this book to all marine mammal enthusiasts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2006
Just briefly - this is a wonderful book, an inspired and inspiring scientific round-up of facts and argument surrounding the magnificent sperm whale.

And ah - what a magnificent beast! And what a shockingly shameful record of mindless destruction and havoc we humans have wrought on their populations. Sadly the madness continues with unswerving stupidity as the Japanese government finds new ways to disgrace itself. Whitehead covers the ground with delicate ease and useful detail. He maintains as level an academic position as his dignity (considerable) allows.

But let's not allow the worse to sully the best.....get this cracking book and revel in its treasure-trove of info' on sperm whales, dynamic divers of the deep ocean, loving family socialites, and deployers of the most formidable acoustic abilities on the planet.

Interesting observation: Given how they allocate their time, are sperm whales better regarded as deep-water animals who visit the surface (as, of course, obligate air-breathers) or is it the other way round?!
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