Book - Leviathan

Leviathan cover

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Leviathan

by Philip Hoare

Rating: ★★★★☆

Synopsis: The story of a man’s obsession with whales, which takes him on a personal, historical and biographical journey — from his childhood to his fascination with Moby-Dick and his excursions whale-watching. All his life, Philip Hoare has been obsessed by whales, from the gigantic skeletons in London’s Natural History Museum to adult encounters with the wild animals themselves. Whales have a mythical quality — they seem to elide with dark fantasies of sea-serpents and antediluvian monsters that swim in our collective unconscious. In ‘Leviathan’, Philip Hoare seeks to locate and identify this obsession. What impelled Melville to write ‘Moby-Dick’? After his book in 1851, no one saw whales in quite the same way again. This book is an investigation into what we know little about — dark, shadowy creatures who swim below the depths, only to surface in a spray of spume. More than the story of the whale, it is also the story of our own obsessions.

Completely unique book to me. Partly about the almost unknown whale, partly about how unbelievably efficient whalers and whaling was, partly about the world and economy of whaling, partly about Moby Dick and Moby Dick and partly about the author’s love and fascination with the whale. However, it worked. I was simultaneously interested in all these things.

Definitely worth a read.