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The Presence of Whales: Contemporary Writings on the Whale Paperback – June 1, 1995

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$14.04 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.


Editorial Reviews

Review

Stewart's contemporary essays on whales blends works by marine scientists and nature writers who share both science and their personal experiences with whales. Enjoy an exceptionally diverse collection of insights and works which creates a well-rounded portrait of whales. -- Midwest Book Review

From the Author

"The Presence of Whales brings together some of the best contemporary writings on the great whales, creatures such as blues, and fins, which are the most immense animals ever to have lived; sleek and massive killer whales, once thought to be the sea's most vicious predators; and the mysterious belugas and narwhals.

                                       from the Introduction, Frank Stewart

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Alaska Northwest Books; First Edition, General edition (June 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0882404644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0882404646
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,487,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James Montagano on February 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
Poignant and deeply satisfying. After reading just one chapter I ordered another copy to give as a gift.
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Format: Paperback
The collection of stories from different writers about their encounters with whales is an enlightening read. I'll probably never get close to these remarkable beings, so the stories take me there. I've learned some amazing facts and better appreciate the whale. I was touched by learning how mothers are so attentive to their baby, and was saddened after being made aware of whale hunting techniques. Overall, this book taught me something and enlightened me.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Harry Eagar VINE VOICE on December 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
This collection, described as "contemporary writings on the whale," is full of fine writing.

Not good. Fine.

Awed, as they all are by the size of whales, almost all the writers feel obliged to say something awesome. Since they don't have any really big thoughts, they fall back on "creative writing" as taught in the lit'ry schools.

Thus we get the inane adjective: "luminous sunlight" (Frank Stewart, the editor, a professor of English literature at the University of Hawaii); and the simile more obscure than the event it purports to clarify: wind rattles a hut until the "walls gyrated like a rocket during liftoff" (Diane Ackerman, writing for the New Yorker).

And padding, including half a paragraph devoted to explaining how "the spout's character changed with wind conditions" (Kenneth Brower).

And unclassifiable nonsense, of which my favorite instance is Charles Bergman's description of a leaping whale as "unavoidably phallic." Now there, despite what I just said, is a man with a big idea.

Despite this, the book is readable, thanks to the whales, about which it is possible to write badly but not dully.

The whales, however, are not the stars of "The Presence of Whales."

The star is Roger Payne, the scientist who turned humpback whales into recording artists in the '60s.

This apparently is because Payne and his wife, Katherine Payne, keep open house for vagrant nature writers, several of whom came away with the impression that Payne discovered the fact that cetaceans make a lot of noise.

Credit for that really is due to Kenneth Norris, one of the two writers in this book, along with Farley Mowat, whose writing is unpretentious. (Norris is not merely good; at his best, he's wonderful.
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