March Books 19) Leviathan, or, The Whale, by Philip Hoare
A good historical and literary survey of whaling: Hoare chases down all sorts of information about whales and their exploitation by humans; I had forgotten just how bad things had got in the 1970s before the whaling ban came into force (as far as it did); but it's also amazing just how little is known about whales, because of the difficulty of carrying out direct research on them. Hoare also reflects on Herman Melville and the composition of his great work, and even tracks down a specific whale skeleton in Yorkshire which is explicitly mentioned in Moby-dick. I've only had one encounter with whales, and I have to admit that I found it rather difficult to process exactly what I was seeing; the scale of the creature is just so large that I wasn't quite sure how to interpret the evidence of my senses. Anyway, Hoare helped me make sense of it all, though Melville's book is better.