Like many other kids (and adults, I would guess), I was overwhelmed by the 94-foot blue whale hanging in New York’s Museum of Natural History. I was already obsessed with dinosaurs at the time — I cried when we finished the unit on them in first grade — and the whale added giant oceanic life to my childhood list of wonderment. I’ve never really outgrown my fascination. Now, I’m learning (a few months late) of Philip Hoare’s Leviathan, or The Whale. Published in the UK last September (it’s yet to be published in the U.S.), it won that country’s Samuel Johnson Prize.
Some relevant links: The book’s gorgeous hardcover jacket; a Second Pass contributor raved about the work in the UK; a mixed review of the book (“The hugeness of [Hoare’s] subject seems to have encouraged him into portentous overstatement.”); Hoare recommends 10 other books about whales; an interesting piece that wonders if the Samuel Johnson Prize for Hoare signals that “formal biography is now a dying art”; and earlier on the Second Pass, Levi Stahl wrote about another book to read beside Moby-Dick.