Tom Rose Big Miracle

ISBN 13: 9781611204490

Big Miracle

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9781611204490: Big Miracle

Set in Cold-War-era 1988, Big Miracle is the real story behind the remarkable, bizarre and often times uproarious event that mesmerized the world for weeks. On October 7, an Inuit hunter found three California Gray Whales imprisoned in the Arctic ice. In the past, as was nature's way, trapped whales always died. Not this time. Rose compellingly describes how oil company executives, Greenpeace activists, Eskimos, businessmen, and military officers heroically worked together to save the whales. The book also features some of the more than 150 international journalists who brought the story to the world's attention. The rescue was followed by millions of people around the world and brought President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, to join forces.

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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 media coverage of it. Today, Rose, the former Publisher and CEO of the Jerusalem Post, is a conservative talk show host on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio. He writes regularly on the Middle East and lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

READER BIO
A veteran of stage and screen, Peter Berkrot's career spans four decades. Highlights include feature roles in Caddyshack and Showtime's Brotherhood, and appearances on America's Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries. His voice can be heard on television, radio, video games, documentaries and industrials. Peter has recorded a number of audiobooks, including three by Peter Hessler. Other favorite titles include The Wood; English, August; The Fifth Vial; American Brutus; Better; and Some Sort of Epic Grandeur.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1

The Hunt
 

The bitter weather came early along Alaska’s North Slope in September 1988. The Siberian air that rolled in brought high winds and unseasonable cold. In one week, the average temperature went from ten degrees above to twenty degrees below zero. An unusually strong rim of ice formed along the shore, sealing off America’s northernmost coastline from the fierce Arctic Ocean.
Most of the thousands of whales that feed in these waters began to migrate south a few weeks early. Three young California gray whales did not. Two adolescents and one yearling did not sense the ice closing in overhead. Had they known what was in store, they obviously would have joined the others. Instead, they continued to feed on the tasty crustaceans that lined the endless ocean bottom.
These whales were in no hurry to leave. Why should they be? Their food supply was as limitless as their appetites were voracious; they faced no dangers of which they were aware. Besides, once they left these rich feeding grounds for their winter, warmer home off Baja, California, they wouldn’t eat again until they returned to Alaska the following spring—five months later. By then they would have completed a 9,000-mile round-trip, the longest migration of any mammal in the world. That’s a long time for an eating machine to fast.
Migration meant confrontation. Killer whales, great white sharks, and many other predators feed on young grays because it is their youth that makes them such easy pickings. These uninitiated gray whales would soon be provided a first-rate education in the real world of Arctic survival.
The whales heedlessly rolled on their sides to suck the shrimplike amphipods from the seabed just a few hundred feet off Point Barrow, a narrow sandspit five miles long. It was the very tip of North America. Four miles to the southwest stood Barrow, the largest, oldest, and farthest northern Eskimo settlement on the globe. At any other time at any other spot on the Arctic coast of Alaska, the whales would have drowned unnoticed under the ice.
In just a few short weeks, a strong case can be made that these three creatures would become the luckiest animals in all history; the recipients of unprecedented assistance from an alien species. The first of their kind before or since to be spared—at least as far as we know—the fate that had doomed all the others. They would not drown like other stranded whales; they would not be reduced to Japanese beauty products or Russian ice cream by high-tech factory ships; nor, at least for now, would they end up as local Inuit dinners, as the Inuits took advantage of unfilled whaling quotas.
After each spring thaw, carcasses of young whales almost littered Alaska’s Arctic coast. The locals who found them months after their deaths every year knew the most probable cause of death was drowning because nearly all the carcasses were of young or even infant grays. Lest a tear be shed in vain, one can rest assured that these dead did not die in vain. Nothing in nature ever does. They were an important element all the way up and down the Arctic food chain.
These three whales occasionally stopped eating to scratch their ungainly snouts on the gravelly bottom for relief from the whale lice and barnacles infesting their skin. Ironically, it was these itchy pests that would deliver them from the first of many death traps they would encounter over the next several months.
Since time immemorial, local Inuits (they used to call themselves Eskimos—and did not take offense when others did, too) built an entire subsistence civilization around the whale upon whom they depended for survival. Over the centuries, they acquired a taste for the much tastier bowhead whale. The bowhead’s clean, glossy sleek skin made far better eating than the unsightly and unappetizing California gray.
While the barnacles annoyed these three grays, the tiny pests were nothing compared to one local Eskimo hunter. Despite a five-foot-three-inch frame, his prowess as a whaling captain earned him the nickname Malik, which, in his Inupiat language, means “Little Big Man.” He spent most of his sixty-odd years roaming the always oscillating ice shelf off Point Barrow in search of the bowhead. Most older Eskimos, like many other peoples only recently introduced to the Western calendar, can’t tell you exactly how old they are.
Until recently, whales were the only food source plentiful enough to feed all the people who lived at the frozen and forlorn top of the world. The bounty from a typical sixty-foot bowhead whale could feed a standard-size Inuit village for an average year. Outsiders called Malik’s job “subsistence whaling.” But one man’s subsistence whaler is another man’s cowboy.
By early September 1988, Barrow’s whaling captains were starting to worry about what was turning into a dismal fall hunt. No one from the area had caught a whale since spring, and winter—which comes quickly in the Arctic—was nearly upon them. And when winter comes here it doesn’t come empty-handed. It brings with it six months of some of the world’s coldest temperatures and sixty-seven days of absolute darkness. In Barrow, Alaska, the sun sets every November 17 and doesn’t rise again until January 21 of the following year. Temperatures of fifty degrees below zero are not unusual. Factor in the howling winds that whip down from the North Pole or across the Beaufort and Chukchi seas from Siberia at speeds of up to 100 miles an hour, and the windchill reading can drop to 175 degrees below zero. Of course, Alaskans don’t bother with windchills. The ambient readings are bad enough.
As any Alaskan knows, the forty-ninth state has only two seasons: winter and damned late in the fall. This gets less funny the farther north you travel in Alaska—and Barrow is as far north as you can get.
Barrowans proudly called their town “The Top of the World.”1 For all intents and purposes it was. Located 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle, it could be reached only by air except for two or three weeks in the summer when the ice receded far enough for a thick-hulled supply ship to get through.
Malik and his people have called Barrow home since their forbearers first paddled, walked or skated across the Bering Sea from Siberia as long as 25,000 years ago. These intrepid seafarers came in nimble open boats made of dried walrus or sealskin called umiaks. These were certainly among the first people to have permanently settled in North America. Whether they displaced anyone else is not known, so they call themselves the first Americans, and who can blame them?
By 1988, there were a little more than 3,000 people living in Barrow, around 2,700 of whom claimed to descend in some degree from those original explorers. On the night of September 16, 1988, Malik assembled his six-man whaling crew outside Sam & Lee’s on Nachick Street, advertised as the world’s northernmost Chinese restaurant, to arrange their gear. When the gear was sorted, assembled, and packed, the men were ready to hunt the open waters of the Arctic Ocean in search of migrating bowhead whales.
In one of nature’s most daring matches, these seven men sought battle with an immensely powerful, agile and resilient forty-ton whale. These men hunted not from an umiak, but from a much sturdier but still small aluminum dinghy powered interchangeably by oars and a modern outboard motor. A kicking whale’s tail or slapping whale fins could easily capsize the boat. Together, the whale’s tail and fins, called flukes, propel and guide the massive mammal with both precision and stealth, equally able to challenge or simply evade anything or anyone foolish enough to confront it.
If cast out of their boat and into the frigid waters—for any reason, be it man caused, ocean caused, or whale caused—the jettisoned men would not have long to enjoy the refreshing chill of the eight-degree Arctic Ocean water before dying. But the prospect of a bitter winter without locally hunted whale blubber—more appetizingly called muktuk, the primary but long since essential food choice for natives—provided these whalers with the chance to simultaneously ply their trade and win local plaudits.
In one of modernity’s most predictable phenomenon, the prosperity delivered by Alaska’s oil wealth did not cut Barrowans off from their past; it helped them recreate it. Before the oil boon of the mid-1970s, Eskimos hunted whales only in springtime. Prior to widespread adoption of the outboard motor and two-way radio, hunting whales anytime other than in the spring was pointless. The only way premodern whalers could effectively hunt was by waiting out on the sea ice in pitched tents for days, sometimes even weeks at a time, for whales to pass them by.
While their cultural betters down in the Lower 48 lamented the “lost innocence” of Inuits and other newly modern peoples, Barrowans were as eager to improve their own lives as anyone else. Why they should continue living as fossilized museum pieces so that members of the faraway commentariat in the Lower 48 could congratulate themselves for preserving was a question few people on the North Slope had the time to waste asking.
Now that they had outboard motors, Malik didn’t have to wait for whales or the approval of their distant and unknowing superiors. They could go get the whales themselves. Once they found and harpooned one, they could use their two-way radios to get help towing it in. But make no mistake: while whaling was much easier than it had ever been, it was still challenging and dangerous.
Malik’s father and grandfather earned the title of Great Whaler. Even though this title usually followed a family’s line, Malik had to prove he, too, was worthy of it. He listened to his elders. He learned their lessons. With over seventy harvested whales to his credit, Malik was well known in every whaling village up and down...

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Book Description Dreamscape Media, United States, 2011. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. Set in Cold-War-era 1988, Big Miracle is the real story behind the remarkable, bizarre and often times uproarious event that mesmerized the world for weeks. On October 7, an Inuit hunter found three California Gray Whales imprisoned in the Arctic ice. In the past, as was nature s way, trapped whales always died. Not this time. Rose compellingly describes how oil company executives, Greenpeace activists, Eskimos, businessmen, and military officers heroically worked together to save the whales. The book also features some of the more than 150 international journalists who brought the story to the world s attention. The rescue was followed by millions of people around the world and brought President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, to join forces. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781611204490

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Book Description Dreamscape Media, United States, 2011. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. Set in Cold-War-era 1988, Big Miracle is the real story behind the remarkable, bizarre and often times uproarious event that mesmerized the world for weeks. On October 7, an Inuit hunter found three California Gray Whales imprisoned in the Arctic ice. In the past, as was nature s way, trapped whales always died. Not this time. Rose compellingly describes how oil company executives, Greenpeace activists, Eskimos, businessmen, and military officers heroically worked together to save the whales. The book also features some of the more than 150 international journalists who brought the story to the world s attention. The rescue was followed by millions of people around the world and brought President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, to join forces. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781611204490

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Book Description Dreamscape Media. No binding. Book Condition: New. Audio CD. Dimensions: 6.4in. x 5.5in. x 1.1in.Set in Cold-War-era 1988, Big Miracle is the real story behind the remarkable, bizarre and often times uproarious event that mesmerized the world for weeks. On October 7, an Inuit hunter found three California Gray Whales imprisoned in the Arctic ice. In the past, as was natures way, trapped whales always died. Not this time. Rose compellingly describes how oil company executives, Greenpeace activists, Eskimos, businessmen, and military officers heroically worked together to save the whales. The book also features some of the more than 150 international journalists who brought the story to the worlds attention. The rescue was followed by millions of people around the world and brought President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, to join forces. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Audio CD. Bookseller Inventory # 9781611204490

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