The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea (originally published in the UK as Leviathan or, The Whale) is an eclectic book about a variety of things of which the unifying factor is whales. It’s a memoir of the author’s love of whales, his love of Moby Dick, a brief biography of Herman Melville, a history of whaling and man’s relationship with whales, and a natural history of whales all in one 400-page book. As such, it can sometimes be a bit all over the place, but it is certainly never boring.
The author travels to old whaling ports in New England and the Northeast of England, and goes swimming with Sperm whales in the Azores, and ponders the many plot points of a certain book about a white whale. In fact, a great deal of the book could almost be called history as seen through Herman Melville and Moby Dick. But even if, like me, you’ve never felt the need to read that great tome of American literature, there’s still much here to like. Especially if you like whales.
There are lots of black-and-while photographs and illustrations in each chapter to illustrate Hoare’s text. For those sensitive to such things, the descriptions of whaling can be a bit graphic and you may want to skim them. Recommended for whale-lovers, animal-lovers, those curious about whaling, or those who like travel memoirs with a historical side.