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Sounding Paperback – 1982

4.8 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1982
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

SOUNDING takes us into the extraordinary mind and emotions of the magnificent sperm whale, an aging bull roaming the waters of the Atlantic. Troubled and separated from his herd, the whale wants to fulfill his one obsessive desire -- to communicate with the human race and learn why they can be both vicious hunters and frolicking playmates.

Far away, on a doomed Russian nuclear submarine, Lieutenant Peter Rostov, the sonar officer and a classical musician, is spending what he's sure are his last days listening to the beautiful "sounding" of the whale.

In the amazing climax to this unique novel, man and whale come together -- and a magnificent destiny is fulfilled.

"Searls is remarkably eloquent. . . . you'll stand up and cheer." -- The Washington Post Book World --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Novelist and screenwriter Hank Searls, author of the bestselling Overboard, Jaws II, and Sounding, is creator of the New Breed TV series and writer of Fugitive TV episodes. His novel Pilgrim Project became Robert Altman’s film Countdown. He has lived most of his life on, under, or over the ocean, having been a world-cruising yachtsman, underwater photographer, and navy flier. He lives in Gig Harbor, Washington, with his wife, Bunny.


--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345298667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345298669
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It may sound crazy that this book is from the perspective of a whale, but it is extremely insightful and touching. The whale is recalling his life and the lives of other whales through mental pictures and sounds. He thinks about his kind and their experiences with whalers, other species like dolphin, sharks, etc. and deals with how terribly dangerous humans can be. In a cool twist we also get the thoughts of a soldier on a Russian sub that is trapped, much like the fate of the Russian sub earlier this year. This book is amazing. It once again convinced me of our actions and what we do and don't do and how it can drastically change the world.
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Format: Paperback
I can't believe I missed this book these many years, but then the title is not descriptive until you read the book and much like "Watership Down" does not at first glance appear offer the depth and breadth to captivate adults as well as children. What a wonderful surprise! This book is now in my personal Top Ten because of the combination of the scope of the story and the beauty of the telling. Mr. Searls immediately validates the scope of his novel by revealing the enchanting facts of his considerable research early on that describe the size and complexity of the sperm whale brain ( the thinking portion is many times larger and more convoluted than man's and was in that advanced state 30 million years before man's ancestors began to grow big brains ). The reader can't help but wonder for what evolutionary advantage that thinking ability began and survives for so long. We don't have to wonder alone as Mr. Searls immerses us in a completely new and expansive world, the society and history of our oft unseen and rarely appreciated cousins, seaborn mammals. If it were only this deep I would love this beautiful story but the truth is he has achieved much greater depth, much like the miles deep dives of the sperm's themselves so hauntingly described here. Among us humans is a deep desire to know we are not alone in our grasp of Life and the Nature of the Universe. Anyone who has ever utterred the words or even had the thought "If they can put a man on the moon, why can't ( here at home ) they...." need look no further. Here is vast wonder that can't help but stir any sensitive reader to a new grasp of the nature of intelligence and what it means to be an "Earthling". It is a solid mile-marker in the journey to view the "oneness" of our rich planet, Mother Earth, including the larger part under water.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
SOUNDING by Hank Searls is without a doubt; "A whale of tale!" I first read this book some 20 years(+) ago. The first edition showed the fluke of a whale as it started it's souding. I have always been interested in things of the ocean and of course, I immedietly bought the book.

I recalled the basic story line after 20 some odd years, and although I had forgotten the specifics, I remembered what a fasinating and enjoyable read it was. Therefore, I ordered the book once again and read it with the enthusiasm of a child reading a classic fairy tale.

Hank Searls is/was a master of anthromorphism, and his research knowledge of the Sperm Whale only serves to enhance it's character.

The reader is plunged into the dark abyss of the seas and witin the belly of a sunken Russian submarine all in one book. Hank Searls weaves a fine tapestry of drama and suspense in the lives of the Sperm Whale and Mankind.

A great read, a fun read, and one well worth enjoying!!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I did enjoy this book and have to give the author 10/10 for originality and for raising some big questions, and also providing some great education about whales in general, and particularly the Atlantic sperms. At times exciting, often sad, sometimes downright silly (whale rape?), overall this was a good book that does a great job in portraying mankind as the scum of the planet - and rightly so - but it does offer some rays of hope for us, so it's not all doom and gloom.

Certainly a well written novel, and it will keep you thinking for a long time after you put it down. Recommended for anyone interested in marine life and eco-themes.
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Format: Paperback
I read this about fifteen years ago and I
remember details of the plot to this day.
I was completely awed by the author's ability
to tell a story from a non-human narrator's
perspective. Having been sucked into that
point of view, I was completely captured by
the suspense and excitement of the narrative.
I'm convinced that, if this were not told
from such a radical p.o.v., this would have
been considered one of the best adventure
novels of the decade.

Since then, I've read Cheryl Tardif's beautiful
Whale Song: A Novel and a couple of lesser novels. I think,
after reading them, that the daring pretense
of diving into the consciousness of our most
intelligent fellow mammals creates an
incredible opportunity for us to imagine our-
selves from a distance.

A few years ago, science fiction provided that
opportunity, but today science has overtaken the
fiction. This is a moving, suspenseful story
full of poignant speculation about what it means
to be conscious and part of the living world.

A quickly-read treat and highly recommended.

--Lynn Hoffman, author of THE NEW SHORT COURSE IN WINE
and the forthcoming novel bang BANG from Kunati Books.
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