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Leviathan Hardcover – Import, 2008

5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

An extraordinary journey into the underwater world of the whale. Moby Dick is a book made mythic by its whale; but the reverse is also true. After Melville published his book in 1851, no one saw whales in quite the same way again. Melville created a modern myth out of an already legendary beast. But what is the true nature of the whale? Why does it fascinate us? All his life, Philip Hoare has been obsessed with these creatures, from the huge skeletons in London's Natural History Museum to adult encounters with the wild animals themselves. Whales haunt him, as they seem to elide with dark fantasies of sea-serpents and other antediluvian monsters that swim in our collective unconscious. In 'Leviathan', he seeks to locate and identify that obsession. Why does the whale so vividly inhabit our imaginations? Is it a symbol of Edenic innocence in a time of threatened species and climate change? Or an older emblem of evil, the grotesque fish which swallowed Jonah? Travelling around the globe in search of the whale, Philip Hoare sheds light on our perennial fascination with the strange creatures of the sea, whose nature remains tantalizingly undiscovered.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; First Edition edition (2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007230133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007230136
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,874,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip Hoare is the author of several books, including 'Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant'; 'Noel Coward: A Biography'; 'Oscar Wilde's Last Stand'; 'Spike Island' and 'England's Lost Eden'. He lives in Hoxton, London, and Southampton, and each summer visits Cape Cod, where, as a member of the Center for Coastal Studies, he undertakes twice-daily expeditions to watch its whales.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jdfield on June 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
So, I have to preface this with the information that ever since I can remember I've been obsessed with the natural world. Recently my focus has been whales. I based an entire holiday around it. Given all of this, I was predisposed to love Leviathan. If you have any kind of magpie mind you'll find something to spark your interest here. It's crammed with astonishing facts about beasts that are already fascinating. There is great harshness, too. The narrative is structured around the history of man's interaction with whales, and it hasn't been nice...
My problem with this book is also it's greatest strength. The magnificence and otherworldliness of whales is astonishingly hard to line into words, but Hoare manages this. One phrase of his describing a humpback as a 'barnacled angel' I thought really lovely.
But he goes too far, and is too personal. Often its frustrating and intrusive and I felt the urge to snap at him to back out of the story. He's less interesting than the whales, unsuprisingly, but doesn't seem aware of this.
And the photos are grainy and black and white. A bit of colour and gloss would have been nice.
Still, though, Leviathan gets 5 stars, because I'm unashamedly biased. And I think everybody should read it. Everybody in the world needs to know more about these largest inhabitants of the world ever, and how mysterious their comings and goings are in the entirely unknown and secret depths and wastes of the ocean. Because they're amazing, and it's time we started being a bit nicer to them...
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By bigdaddy on September 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
You don't have to be obsessed with Moby Dick to love this book, but it doesn't hurt. Hoare's extraordinary, complex, respectful, fearful, loving relationship with the largest mammals on the planet takes him back to the history of whaling, to a time when entire cities were lit by whale oil; to places far below the surface of the ocean, where giant whales battle with three hundred foot squid. It's a magical journey, heartbreaking in terms of man's exploitation of these beautiful creatures. Doubt it will sell well in Japan.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bloomsday on October 14, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Read Moby Dick first. Take your time. Someone said it was essentially a blog and that may be right. Dream about it.

Leviathon is not a take on Moby Dick, but it does provide some great echos and amplifications. Buy it. It's crucial.

But first.. buy Moby Dick in two versions: the Rockwell Kent / Random House hardbound and any paperback, especially if it lacks illustrations because Rockwell Kent's images are the ones you want to envision while you abuse the paperback. Treasure and carefully preserve the Rockewell Kent version for your grandkid's generation..your kid's generation is lost to tech.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Dain on September 1, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent... Nice combination of detail and colorful writine...
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Xpectro on April 4, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
How sad. This edition doesn't have any of the wonderful illustrations that the printed version has. What a huge loss...

Where are them?
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