“War of the Whales” is a must read! This is one ocean journey that everyone should take, and that’s the beauty of reading…you can traverse the depths of the ocean and the hallways of the Supreme Court all without leaving the comforts of your living room.
The story centers around marine biologist Ken Balcomb and NRDC attorney Joel Reynolds as they fight to save whales from navy sonar. For me, getting to know these men over the course of 355 pages was what truly made the book great.
Both Balcomb and Reynolds gave author Joshua Horwitz full access to their personal lives and relationships (both past and present), which to me is an even greater act of courage than taking on the U.S. Navy. Everyone has details about their lives that they would prefer to keep contained within a small circle of friends and family and certainly not thousands of people reading a book.
But taking the risk of sharing their stories, makes perfect sense once you get to know them. Balcomb and Reynolds have dedicated their lives to pursuing their respective passions of studying whales and protecting the environment, both at great personal costs.
In addition to getting to know two ocean heroes, you will learn a great deal about the politics of whale research (many scientists are funded by the Office of Naval Research), the challenges of confronting the navy in court during times of war, the way sonar travels through the deep ocean, and the biology of whales and dolphins that puts them at great risk for acoustic trauma. In particular, you will have the chance to learn more about beaked whales, fascinating creatures that spend much of their lives diving in the deep oceans.
On top of that, “War of the Whales” reads like a thriller from beginning to end. Horwitz meticulously researched this book over the course of six years and in the process captured many of the events as they were happening. He is an excellent writer and master story teller, which makes the book not only informative, but a pleasure to read.
So if you still haven’t, dive in and read this book because navy sonar is an ongoing issue and understanding the back story is key to understanding where things stand today. It’s a must read for everyone who cares about the ocean and some of its most mysterious and magical beings…whales.