War of the Whales: A True Story

Joshua Horwitz

Published by Simon & Schuster, 2015
ISBN 10: 1451645023 / ISBN 13: 9781451645026
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Synopsis: Winner of the 2015 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award: “Horwitz’s dogged reporting...combined with crisp, cinematic writing, produces a powerful narrative.... He has written a book that is instructive and passionate and deserving a wide audience” (PEN Award Citation).

Six years in the making, War of the Whales is the “gripping detective tale” (Publishers Weekly) of a crusading attorney, Joel Reynolds, who stumbles on one of the US Navy’s best-kept secrets: a submarine detection system that floods entire ocean basins with high-intensity sound—and drives whales onto beaches. As Joel Reynolds launches a legal fight to expose and challenge the Navy program, marine biologist Ken Balcomb witnesses a mysterious mass stranding of whales near his research station in the Bahamas. Investigating this calamity, Balcomb is forced to choose between his conscience and an oath of secrecy he swore to the Navy in his youth.

War of the Whales reads like the best investigative journalism, with cinematic scenes of strandings and dramatic David-and-Goliath courtroom dramas as activists diligently hold the Navy accountable” (The Huffington Post). When Balcomb and Reynolds team up to expose the truth behind an epidemic of mass strandings, the stage is set for an epic battle that pits admirals against activists, rogue submarines against weaponized dolphins, and national security against the need to safeguard the ocean environment. “Strong and valuable” (The Washington Post), “brilliantly told” (Bob Woodward), author Joshua Horwitz combines the best of legal drama, natural history, and military intrigue to “raise serious questions about the unchecked use of secrecy by the military to advance its institutional power” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

Review:

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, July 2014: Reported and written with great passion and precision, this is a gripping and wholly original tale of the ecological side effects of national security. When whales begin beaching themselves in the Bahamas, a marine researcher suspects a clandestine military sonar program. The fight to protect the gentle giants of the sea from the U.S. Navy reads like an eco-thriller crossed with the best of investigative journalism. The action veers from Caribbean beaches to the Pentagon, from the San Juan Islands of Washington State to the chambers of the U.S. Supreme Court. At the center of the action is marine biologist and ex-Navy man, Ken Balcomb, a relentless defender of the whales he’s come to love. Take your fictional pick: Balcomb is either Quixote, Ishmael, or David to the Navy’s Goliath. He’s also got a backstory worthy of its own book--an absent-father childhood, a lengthy (and secret) Navy career, three failed marriages, and finally a passion for marine mammals. When Balcomb teams up with activist environmental lawyer Joel Reynolds, the story’s twists and turns expose us to the hidden histories of underwater submarine surveillance and its impact on deep-sea dwellers. Joshua Horwitz is an exuberant storyteller, and this is a rare trifecta of a book: important, highly readable, and stunningly true. --Neal Thompson

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Title: War of the Whales: A True Story
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2015
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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