Aug 22, 2011

The Year of the Whale

by Victor B. Scheffer

Like Moby Dick, this book alternates narrative with sections describing facts about whales. The storyline is a young sperm whale's life, beginning with its birth in autumn and following it through an entire year as it navigates the waters, shadowing its mother and learning through exploring its environment. The factual parts describe man's encounters with whales and his exploitation of them, including some rather graphic descriptions of the butchering done on whaling ships. Interestingly enough, sometimes a biologist or scientist was present on the whaling ship, hoping to get a chance to study a whale's body as it was being processed. There's also an account of the first sperm whale to be kept alive in captivity, and several stories of stranded whales. An interesting read, but a bit dry for my taste and of course the facts are outdated. The Year of the Whale won an award for being the best natural history book in 1970 (and now I have a new list to pore over- what better reading than all the years' best natural history books going back to 1926?)

Rating: 3/5 ....... 244 pages, 1969

more opinions at:
Lexivore's Lunch


bermudaonion said...

I don't like dry non-fiction, so this probably isn't for me.

Jenny said...

So which half did you like better? The stuff about the whale, or the stuff about human encounters with the whale?

Jeane said...

Actually, for once I liked the factual parts better. Just shows how unimaginative and plain the storyline bits were.