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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important books of the 90s
I cannot, absolutely cannot, stress of how much import this book is. Safina writes of politics, poverty, economics, history, technical minutiae, and biological science with the flair of a poet - combined with passages that will make you weep for their ability to communicate the visceral experience of what it's like beneath the water. It's not just a book about marine...
Published on 4 July 1999

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Intellectually Dishonest and tells a biased story.
Carl Safina has omitted much material that would reveal the half truths in this book. There is no doubt that the oceans are stressed but to hide facts that refute the calamitous state that Safina would have us believe is the only truth is dis-honest.Two years prior to publication of this book the National Academy of Sciences refuted the Biology of the NMFS scientists with...
Published on 2 Mar 1998


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important books of the 90s, 4 July 1999
By A Customer
I cannot, absolutely cannot, stress of how much import this book is. Safina writes of politics, poverty, economics, history, technical minutiae, and biological science with the flair of a poet - combined with passages that will make you weep for their ability to communicate the visceral experience of what it's like beneath the water. It's not just a book about marine biology - it's an extended essay on the forces that have shaped civilization at the end of the millennium and its relation to the world at large. The hardest thing is to get across how compulsively readable it is - digressions into issues involving privitization of land and the beuracratical nightmare of listing a species as endangered are communicated so lucidly, cleverly, and with such humanity that the book never devloves into that category called boring that would cause most people to skip it. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I wish everyone in that region would read Safina's exhaustive overview of the destruction of the salmon fisheries. Only now, later in life, do I have a clear picture of what those headlines I saw as a kid even meant.
And somewhere within all this, you discover that not only is Safina an objective scientist, an environmentalist who cares for the well being of other humans and is actually concerned for the plight of those who make their living off the seas; he is also a gifted writer.
I kid you not. This is a book about marine science. It made me bawl like a baby. It is, despite it's complex issues, so innately human. And that's what makes it essential. Safina is no tree hugging environmentalist - he appraises it with a keen eye for its beauty and its terror but is also a firece guardian - of the system which allows us to live with it. He has extraordinary empathy for those right minded individuals who have lost their jobs due to overfishing and the political nightmare that has followed. What provokes his anger is how that system is abused; and what emerges is that it is never a case of the usual solutions that pit conservationist vs. fisherman - it is a case of the entire economic situation we live in writ large that has led to our abuse of the oceans.
And despite the unrelenting nightmare you face during his journey, as it seems the whole ocean is vanishing before your eyes; there is hope, in the unlikeliest of places and his ability to essay that hope is miraculous and affirming.
Howard Hall, the legendary underwater photographer, said something like: if you were to start diving today you'd see a world you couldn't imagine... But it's nothing like what you would have seen only thirty years ago. I think any sceptic, or even the most hardened of political conservatives who believe the environment is designed to withstand relentless punishment, cannot disregard the arguements made in the book. I started diving only recently. I'm a young guy. Chances are I won't be able to ever see the great coral reefs of the South Pacific - they won't be there. This book will convince you that our children will not be able to experience the oceans and its life that we have still today; unless we change the essential underpinnings of how we relate to each other as a society we will not be able to restore this.
Enough ranting. Just get this book, read it, and try to tell me you weren't fascinated. This single book will change your worldview, and teach you in so many disciplines, that you can't ignore it. And please, some company publish this in the UK for the Brits pronto... Until then, Mr. Safina is my hero and I hope he writes more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not only a song, but a beautiful song for the blue ocean, 25 Jan 1999
By A Customer
Safina weaves a masterful story of our oceans and the precarious relationship between sea and man. Unlike traditional "environmental" works, Safina tells the story of three disparate communities and their relationship to a dying sea. The use of language, the intriguing personal accounts actually EXPERIENCED by the author, and a deep understanding of the complexity of the sea are halmarks of this work.
The book is divided into three large sections covering the following regions: New England and bluefin tuna, the Pacific Northwest and salmon, and the southwest Pacific and aquarium fishes. Each section is self contained and focuses on the specific region targeted by the section. Safina, fortunately, does not attempt to create a mega tome describing all the ocean's problems. Rather, he focuses are three extremely well researched areas that, assumingly, typify the problems with the sea.
Safina has a unique talent for storytelling that conveys deep meanings and complex relationships. The need for such a simple, and yet complex, analysis is similar to the simple, and yet complex, issues that surround ocean depletion itself. That is, Safina is not a typical "environmentalist" with the "answers." He is a concerned person who tells the complex story of how a "simple" event like overfishing can occur in our "modern" world. The complex and interrelated dynamics of economy, politics, science, families, occupations, and age together lead to the "simple" problems that Safina describes. As becomes very evident in the book, one can only understand the problem, and then presumably take action, when one understands and accepts the complex dynamics that created the problem. Safina steers well clear of the traditional, simplified "environmentalist" stance that points the proverbial finger at single sources like "government," clear cut loggers, long line fishers, and cyanide fisherman.
The epilogue alone is a masterpiece of understanding and simplicity. Like the land ethic, Safina identifies the equal importance of a sea ethic. Safina's solutions are refreshing for anyone who doubts the government's ability to objectively protect our resources. Rather, Safina seems to leave the protection to local peoples -- the people directly impacted by the issues and with vested interests in the outcomes. Through local actions, not distant government mandates, our heritage and resources can survive.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best writer about the sea since Rachel Carson, 7 May 1998
By A Customer
Combine an investigative reporter's sense of what's important, a scientist's scrupulous attention to accuracy, and the sensual, lyrical and compelling writing style of the very best nature writers and you have Carl Safina's Song for the Blue Ocean. Page after page, it tells us about magnificent creatures that most people know only as illustrations or the centerpieces of dinner plates but that Carl knows as living things. I've worked in marine conservation since 1978, but I learned a great deal from his book about the economics that are driving giant bluefin tunas to the abyss of extinction, the exquisite interplay between ancient trees and the salmon they nurture, and the dark truths that lie beneath bright coral seas. Carl not only gets it right; with his astute observations, self-deprecating humor and poetic descriptions, he helps the reader see into the truth in ways that open the minds of all but those who will not see. But don't believe me; I've been waiting for someone with the talent to write such a book about the sea for years. Rather, believe my wife, who gobbles Grishams but doesn't read nonfiction as a rule, yet who absolutely loves Song for the Blue Ocean. Yes, it is that good.
Elliott A. Norse, President, Marine Conservation Biology Institute
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5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, Poignant, and Amazingly fact-filled., 21 May 1998
By A Customer
Safina takes the reader on what would appear to be the boring world of global fisheries practices, and weaves a riviting web of tales based on first person encounters about the unknown plight of our quickly vanishing resources. He uses his background as a scientist to base this poignant study on unequivocal fact, but never talks down to the reader. Song for the Blue Ocean reads like a Huck Finn adventure into the realm of the limitless ocean but we find out all too quickly that the sea's cornucopeia is being drained at a frightening rate. Safina shows how the one hundred million tons of marine produce harvested each year is being squandered for short-term gain, to the detriment of our immediate future. This book is on par with Rachael Carson's "Silent Spring" and is a clarion call to action for the proper utilization of our marine " tucker. " Few conservation books are written with such flair that make us regular folks want to care about something as nebulous as marine food fish. This one will not only make you care, it will blow your socks off! If you have ever sailed on the sea, gazed at it or eaten fish, you will find this book irresistible.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly informative work dealing with the worlds fisheries, 6 May 1998
By A Customer
I found this book to provide the most accurate portrayal of the interactions of the different facits of society and how that affects our marine fish populations. In particular, I found Mr.Safinas description of the commercial fishing persona to be in my my experience, profoundly accurate. In particular, Dr. Safina was able to grasp the essence of how the profit motive subverts good men and women and causes them to destroy the very animals their lives depend on. I have been involved with the fisheries of the North Pacific for fourty years, both in recreational and commercial aspects. This is the first literary work that I have come across that so accurately describes the present condition of our salmon populations in real terms, and how that affects the people who depend upon these fish for work and play.
Although I do not have any intimate knowledge of the other areas of the world Dr. Safina deals with in his book, I found it to be very intersting. I found the information that he stated about the salmon situation to be implicitely true. Therefore, I feel safe to say that the information in this book can be relied upon without fail.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational and engrossing book, 8 May 1998
By A Customer
An engrossing and inspirational book cateloguing the devastation we are causing to the Oceans and the environment around us. Carl Safina has written a book that anyone who cares for the Ocean and the life within it must read. The balance of his views is remarkable, showing the struggle between the demands of the people who's lives depend on the fishing industry and the devastation we have wrought in the oceans by overfishing and the damage to the environment. The book is also a travelogue as well and describes the different environments and the people who live in them with a travellers eye as well as telling the story of the fishing industry there. It opens up an acedemic and complex subject and makes it accessible to those of us who love the oceans and the environment. One of the best books I have ever read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for every scuba diver & others who love the ocean, 8 May 1998
By A Customer
An extraordinary tale, told in a personal, easy to read style that captures the good, the bad and the ugly of what is going on in the world's oceans. There are certain to be some who will try to claim that it overstates the case, but as a long-time scuba diver and head of an association of divers, I have seen first hand that many of the threats to the oceans described in this book are all too real. The book is honest, gives both sides of the story and backs up its assertions with proof. Because it is so honest, it is sure to make some people - who prefer to stick their heads in the sand - uncomfortable. This is not a doom and gloom story. It lovingly describes the wonders of the seas and what needs to be done to keep the oceans full of life so that they can be enjoyed by generations to come. Bravo!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A book to steal your breath and wonder upon man and ocean, 6 May 1998
By A Customer
This book is a joy to read, the first chapter grabs your attention and each successive one holds you fast. Song is so well rounded, beautifully written, and well researched that it fills me with envy to think Safina even launched upon the task. As a researcher, marine conservationist, recreational fisher and diver, and friend of the commercial fishing community I can vouch for many of Safina's facts. And in response to earlier customer comments regarding the bluefin industry, there are volumes of data, and those giant tuna are getting slammed. Before blasting off irrational and ridiculous messages you might want to double check on your information source.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening and Engrossing, 29 Dec 1998
By A Customer
Safina weaves an incredible tale of the amazing life in our oceans and what we are doing to destroy it. What makes this book so compelling is not only Safina's fascinating descriptions of undersea wildlife, but the equally interesting and compelling descriptions of the people who depend upon our marine resources. Though I have long considered myself an environmentalist this book has inspired me to recommit myself to doing my part.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, accurate and (sadly) true, 6 May 1998
By A Customer
Safina's book tells the story accurately. Marine fish species, including the tunas, are in decline worldwide, and haggling over insignificant differences in the percentage of decline (which, by the way, Safina reports accurately, contrary to the comment below) will not bring the fishes back. Safina's book is a fair, even-handed report from the field. It is "Silent Spring" for the oceans.
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