Saturday, September 13, 2008

Leviathan or, The Whale by Philip Hoare

A performing killer whale at Windsor Safari Park provided the young Philip Hoare with his first experience of whalekind, but it was a sad-eyed beluga whale in a tank at Coney Island ("a huge ghostly baby fixing me with its stare") that sparked a continuing fascination. This enjoyable trawl through the history, literature and lore of whales shows that Hoare's time has not been misspent. He seems more attuned than most of us to what motivates these "charismatic megafauna". Cetologists have yet to explain why whales leap out of the water, for instance, but I suspect Hoare's far-from-scientific explanation is closest to the truth: because it's fun.


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