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Big Miracle Paperback – December 20, 2011

2.7 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“...the surprising tale of how three creatures sparked a global effort that united warring factions in sheer awe at the bulky yet graceful denizens of this stark and little-understood world.” ―Publishers Weekly

About the Author

TOM ROSE covered the 1988 whale rescue as a reporter and producer for Japanese TV. He spent the next several months in Alaska interviewing every major player involved in both the rescue and the media coverage of it. Today, Rose, the former publisher and CEO of The Jerusalem Post, cohosts the Bauer & Rose show on Sirius/XM satellite radio. He writes and comments regularly on American and Middle East politics. He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Mti edition (December 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780312625191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312625191
  • ASIN: 0312625197
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,109,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Rachel McElhany VINE VOICE on March 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
Big MiracleBig Miracle by Tom Rose

My rating: 1.5 of 5 stars

Big Miracle is the book that inspired the movie of the same name. I haven't seen the movie yet and couldn't find a release date for the DVD. However, from what I could gather from reading about the movie online, it differs markedly from the book. It would have to - there is no way that Drew Barrymore would star in a movie that was as cynical about environmentalism and animal welfare as author Tom Rose's book is.

This book is a non-fiction account of the 1988 rescue attempt of three California Gray whales who were trapped in the ice near Barrow, Alaska. The author was one of several reporters in Barrow covering the rescue process. What could have been a very nice story about people of all different backgrounds coming together to save the whales was ruined by the author's cynicism and the opinions he inserted as facts that didn't have much to do with the actual story.

When this book was originally published in 1989, the title was Freeing the Whales: How the Media Created the World's Greatest Non-Event. Had I known that when this book was pitched to me, I would not have reviewed it. The cover of the new, movie tie-in edition reads, "Inspired by the Incredible True Story That United the World." The author did not feel that this story was incredible - at least not in a good way. He repeats often that the whales didn't need to be saved and that the amount of media coverage they received was ridiculous.

He also uses every opportunity to assert that we should be drilling for oil in Alaska and that the environmentalists have it all wrong. He offers up his opinions as facts with no footnotes or citations to back them up. In a non-fiction book, I expect to see research if opinions are inserted.
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After seeing the movie, I was really looking forward to reading this book. Big mistake. The author spends significant amounts of time simply bashing environmentalists and the environmental movement. What could have been a fascinating look at many different people working together in one of our most far-flung locations instead turned into a right-wing diatribe against people and policies the author does not like and clearly has no intention of trying to understand. First time I've ever deleted a book from my Kindle library after buying it as I really don't want this kind of intolerance sitting on my shelves, even virtual ones. Maybe a bio of Reagan would be a better fit for his style. Definitely the wrong author for this story.
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Because I've spent a number of decades studying toothed whales, I have some interest in baleen whales and have seen thousands of gray whales during migration. Having spoken with a number of cetologists while this situation was playing out, I think a majority would agree that these three grays should have been left to fend for themselves. It's unlikely that they survived even after reaching the ice-free waters. Anyway, be that as it may, it was interesting to read about different perspectives, although the author had an obvious right-wing bias. I'm used to digging for data amidst a flurry of biased opinion, which is what you have to do with this book. It wasn't a worthless read....but you do need to take what you read with a grain of salt and I did enjoy learning a bit more about this old story.
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This was not a novel, this was a boring history paper. Instead of capturing the magic of this story, the author fills in with way too much factual data. He also introduced way too many characters that didn't have any importance in the story. He also jumped around on his time line so it was hard to keep track.

The thing I least enjoyed was he kept saying things like, "Little did Barrow, Alaska know that the biggest event in history was about to happen to them." He said that so many times, I couldn't help but think, "hurry up and get to it!"

I hope the movie is better.
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A preview of how 24 hour news came to be what it is today. Good story about a time before then and what can happen when a small story breaks big. How the news media and those watching the news can turn a non event into a worldwide event. Shows how people's hearts can be grabbed by animals around the world. The movie and the book are really two different stories of the same event. The author is a news person.
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Format: Paperback
I find it difficult to understand why a feel-good story about a global effort to save three whales trapped in the ice would open with an extremely graphic and quite disturbing account of a whale hunt. Honestly, every time I got even the slightest bit captured by the narrative, it would abruptly break off into dry and confusing discussions of the economic plight of the Inuit, or mind-numbing details about elements of history that seemed to have no bearing on the central story that made me pick this book in the first place.

This is one book where I bet the movie is much better because it will focus on saving the whales! After spending years interviewing and researching, the author was apparently unwilling to prune out all the extraneous details to focus on the heart-warming story I assume is buried somewhere in this book. All in all, a disappointing and frustrating read.
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