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Leviathan Hardcover – 1 Sep 2008
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Reviews for Leviathan:
‘A wonderfully idiosyncratic book, passionate zoology counter-pointed with the glories of Moby-Dick…This is a deep book about the deep: an inspiring book about inspirational beings…If you can’t board a ship this week, read this book.’ Simon Barnes, The Times
‘Successful as Hoare’s book is in expanding and its encyclopaedic sources, it also has a personal thread, detailing his own fascination with whales. The author describes his experiences swimming with sperm whales off the Azores, and his prose rises admirably to the demands of the encounter.’ The Financial Times
‘As well as being a showcase for descriptive prose of great beauty, Leviathan is full of fascinating facts…These are tough times for whales, but Hoare brings to light an endangered world of cetacean savoir vivre that mocks our best efforts to be happy.’ The Guardian
‘A celebratory study of the gentle giants that have for so long gripped the human imagination…This book is a lyrical and timely reminder of what we have to lose if we don’t change our greedy ways.’ The Mail on Sunday
‘Anyone who loves the sea will love this book…a Sebalesque triumph, in which the author meditates on his obsession with whales…it is one of those books into which you can dip at random and find something interesting.’ The Sunday Telegraph
‘Philip Hoare’s wonderfully illustrated biography is studded with glittering shards of natural history and social science but it’s also an exploration of the potent place whales occupy in the collective imagination.’ Metro
‘A superb book…This is the book [Phillip Hoare] was born to write, a classic of its kind.’ Rachel Cooke, The Observer
‘…studded with generous illustrations and poetic details…In Hoare’s hands whales are almost limitlessly strange and interesting.’ Bee Wilson, Sunday Times
'Philip Hoare has long been acclaimed as a brilliantly unconventional writer...This is the book he was born to write'See all Product description
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It's hard to describe what this book is about beyond saying that it is about the relationship between man and whale. Through its contents so many areas are covered - history, literature, geography, anthropology, language etc as well as straight biology - and event then it is wrapped up in a very personal memoir about one man's love of the sea and the creature. This makes the book a very eclectic and therefore entertaining read.
This is Philip Hoare's history of his own fascination with whales. It starts with his childhood encounters with life size replicas at London's Natural History Museum and ends with his adult encounters, a stunning and poignant account of swimming with sperm whales in the Azores. Throughout he mixes literary criticism (invariably Herman Melville features heavily), social, cultural and natural history - much, alas, until recently bloody and driven by man's profit motive rather than his passion for nature - with his own profoundly moving experiences of these great beasts.
It is in so many ways a perfect book: accessible, evocative, brilliantly written, expertly portioned between Hoare and the great Leviathons (and never, as so many of these sort of books are, self indulgent) and superbly illustrated; a worthy winner of this year's Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.