Spying on Whales: The Past, Present and Future of the World’s Largest Animals Kindle Edition
|Length: 338 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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“[Pyenson] draws out one of the most fascinating stories in the history of life.” —The New Yorker
“A palaeontological howdunnit embedded in a travelogue devoted to chasing living and extinct whales…[Spying on Whales] captures the excitement of suction-cup tagging of humpback whales, and of digs in Panama, seeking answers to deep questions in cetacean science.” —Nature
“Spying on Whales represents the best of science writing. The subject is inherently fascinating, the author is an authentic scientist by virtue of his personal research on the subject, and the text reads like the epic it truly is.” —Edward O. Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winner and New York Times bestselling author of The Origin of Creativity and The Meaning of Human Existence
"This is a fantastic book. Nick Pyenson writes with a rare combination of passion, scientific insight, and knowledge of Deep Time. I couldn't put it down." –Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus
"Reading Spying on Whales leaves a strong impression, based on the principles of ecology, evolution, and physiology, that a world including whales seems awesomely improbable. And, of course, wonderful. Nick Pyenson guides us through this world, and in the process achieves that rare state of grace for a writer of science—producing prose that is both scientific and beautiful. This is a moving, informative, evocative book." —Robert Sapolsky, author of Behave
"Spying on Whales is a delight on many levels. It's an introduction to the science of whales, but it's also the odyssey of a scientist—and whether he's tracing the fossil history of whales or describing the dissection of a giant whale heart, Pyenson tells his story with warmth and wit." —Carl Zimmer, author of She Has Her Mother's Laugh
"Knowing whales means following them when they dive out of sight, tracing their evolution through desert fossils, and reading great writers as well as the unpublished journals of dozens of scientists who, little by little, chipped away at vast mysteries. If that doesn’t seem easy, it could explain why only one person has done it all. You’re holding his fantastic book in your hands. " —Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel
"Nick Pyenson's Spying on Whales is both a lucid deep-dive into the natural history of these animals and, more subtly, an artful portrait of our own species' enchantment with them. It's an enthralling book about everything we know and our compulsion to know it. "—Jon Mooallem, author of Wild Ones and American Hippopotamus
"With captivating prose, Nick Pyenson takes us on a scientific tale as big as a blue whale. Give your inner paleontologist a treat and learn what it’s like to study the largest animals the world has ever seen." —Jonathan Losos, author of Improbable Destinies
"There are very few creatures that so fully capture our imagination as do whales — and Pyenson proves why they continue to pique scientific and popular curiosity. Part science, part memoir, and all about whales, Pyenson’s fantastic book is a must-read for any science and nature enthusiast." —Lydia Pyne, author of Seven Skeletons
"For the first time anywhere, Nick Pyenson skillfully pieces together the multi-faceted cetacean story—from humble origins among four-legged river-dwellers, to the staggering global diversity of modern whales, and into an uncertain future. Spying on Whales is an engaging tour-de-force that propels you along this journey. " —Scott D. Sampson, author of How to Raise a Wild Child and host, PBS Kids Dinosaur Train
“A wondrous read … Pyenson’s enthusiasm is contagious." --Bookpage
"Contagiously enthusiastic…. A fascinating and entertaining look at whales and the scientists who study them." —Publishers Weekly
“A hard-to-put-down quest to understand whales and their place on Earth.” --Booklist (starred)
"Pyenson sheds light on the mystery of life below the seas without dimming its majesty.” --Library Journal (starred)
--This text refers to the paperback edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B076FR3TDD
- Publisher : William Collins (June 26, 2018)
- Publication date : June 26, 2018
- Language : English
- File size : 4889 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 338 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0735224560
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,872,962 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The second problem with this book of "science" writing is that what should be a monumental issue is treated like some inevitable unknowable. There is no shortage of expertise on whales from the author. He knows their bones, their brains, their relatives, and, as far as can be determined, their long, seemingly unfathomable history. He is truly passionate about their resurgence from the Moby Dick years and the devastating century that followed. More than once, he disassociates himself from those who study whales unscientifically, with blind emotion and open arms.
The monumental issue in question is climate change. The book's jacket uses the term. The book occasionally repeats the term but as if it is defined overall or at least in context to massive ocean-going creatures. "Climate change," in a book that has all the opportunity to define it, is not defined. What role does shipping play in the melting North Pole ice? What role does increased fossil fuel burning play, and for how long, in the future of whales that are getting larger, not smaller, than their ancestors. There are no statistics. There is no analysis. I bought the book with an open-mind of what science can teach me about coal mines in Kentucky, Air Force One's vapor trail, and plastic islands off Sri Lanka. However, when the term is used, "Climate Change," we're supposed to just know what it means, even though 99% of this book covers the changing of climate before humans knew how to ride a bicycle.
I learned so many interesting facts from this book about cetacean paleobiology, walrus whales (!!), how enormous blue whales are and why they technically can't get much larger, shifting baselines, the relationship between different species of river dolphins, how climate change can affect different whale species and so much more.
I listened to the Audible audiobook while highlighting passages in the Kindle edition and I can absolutely recommend both. The audiobook is narrated by the author and the Kindle edition has lots of useful references for further reading :D
(For context, think of Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" or "Why Evolution Is True" by Jerry Coyne).
In all honesty, if you're interested in whales or the evolutionary process at all, read this! I have a greater appreciation for whales in general, and the scientific method of determining evolutionary history in general.