Hoare, Philip. The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea. Ecco, 2010. ISBN 978-0061976216 464 pp. $
The Whale is a biography of the range of leviathans lived under our seas, engagingly and thoroughly written by whale enthusiast Hoare. In the Dickensian tradition, it begins with his boyhood fear of water and fascination with creatures of the deep that extends into adulthood and carries him through his first whale watch and beyond. In the first 50 pages alone, Hoare covers a whirlwind of history and biology, interspersed with literary allusions to Moby Dick, a source of inspiration. Hoare sets off to visit the places from Melville’s novel, and traces the natural and cultural history of the whale along the way.
The well written, award-winning narration is very long in tooth. While I enjoy the richness of the book, Hoare is a little redundant, and some readers will be quickly frustrated with the flowery tone and exaltations of this wondrous mammal (Hoare confesses to running out of adjectives). This is a solid choice for a graduation gift for your favorite aspiring marine biologist.