A thoughtful, ambitiously crafted appeal for the preservation of marine mammals.

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FATHOMS

THE WORLD IN THE WHALE

Seafaring scrutiny of whales, their oceanic environment, and the dangers to their survival.

For Australian journalist Giggs, the sighting of a humpback whale beached on a local shoreline sparked her curiosity for the life and lore of the storied marine mammal. She became captivated by the animal after an informative encounter with the wildlife officer who euthanized the whale. The entire ordeal inspired a research project that encompasses not only physical and ecological elements, but also artistic representations and philosophy. Giggs presents the bounty of that scholarship in crisp, creatively written chapters addressing the many layers of the whale population’s unique physiology and evolutionary history, sociality, above-water balletic athleticism, and enigmatic “biophony” of their vocalizations. Most importantly, she analyzes how their behavior can be predictive for the Earth’s future. An adventurous explorer, the author immerses readers in an Australian whale watching tour and then dips into the deep international waters of Japan, where whaling ships flourish. With a conservationist mindset, Giggs reiterates that the whale and its life, legacy, and precarious environmental state are reflective of the greater issues the Earth faces, from ecological upheaval to overconsumption. Whether describing the majesty of the blue whale or the human assault on sea ecology due to paper and plastic pollution, the author’s prose is poetic, beautifully smooth, urgently readable, and eloquently informative. Her passion for whales leaps off the page, urging readers to care and—even more so—become involved in their protection and preservation. Throughout the book, the author’s debut, she brilliantly exposes “how regular human life seeped into the habitats of wildlife, and how wildlife returned back to us, the evidence of our obliviousness.” Refreshingly, she also reveals glimmers of hope regarding what whales can teach the human race about our capacity to ecologically coexist with the natural world.

A thoughtful, ambitiously crafted appeal for the preservation of marine mammals.

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982120-69-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Stuffed full of trivia, data, lore, and anecdote—a pleasure for any fan of trout fishing.

THE UNREASONABLE VIRTUE OF FLY FISHING

The prolific author returns to an old love: angling for trout.

“Any day fishing on a wintry river is a great day,” writes Kurlansky, refuting Tolstoy’s grumpy assertion that angling is “a stupid occupation.” His river of choice is the appropriately named Salmon, in central Idaho, where the water flows so swiftly that Lewis and Clark named it the “River of No Return.” It’s not open in winter, notes the author, but there are other wintry rivers where one can test “the only two rules of fly fishing that cannot be broken: you cannot fall in and you must keep your fly in the water as much as possible. Everything else depends on circumstance.” This being a book by Kurlansky, who never met a fact he didn’t like, the narrative turns from his experiences as a fisherman to a more universal history. First come the fish themselves, the salmonids, which people have been harvesting for millennia. Only one of those species is a true trout, namely Salmo trutta, the brown trout, with every other kind of trout so called only because they resemble it. The author then moves on to the “acclimatization” projects of the French and the British, “an imperialist concept in an age of Empire,” whereby British anglers felt it was only proper that the brown trout follow the course of conquest, which explains why it can now be found in places such as New Zealand, Chile, and South Africa, “to assure that anywhere a British colonist went, there would be good game for a fly rod.” As for rods and flies, Kurlansky geeks out, reciting names that are known to this day: Charles Orvis, for one, whose contributions to the tackle box are legion; and Clarence Birdseye, the frozen-food magnate whose automatically retracting reel when a fish struck was a dismal failure since “hauling out the fish is part of fishing.”

Stuffed full of trivia, data, lore, and anecdote—a pleasure for any fan of trout fishing.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63557-307-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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