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A Whale for the Killing Paperback – Aug 1 2005

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Key Porter Books (Aug. 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1552636496
  • ISBN-13: 978-1552636497
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,029,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author


FARLEY MOWAT began writing for a living in 1949 after spending two years in the Arctic. He has lived in or visited almost every part of Canada and many other lands, including the distant regions of Siberia. He is author of 39 books, including People of the Deer, Never Cry Wolf, Sea of Slaughter, The Snow Walker, And No Birds Sang, and No Man's River. With sales of more than 14 million copies in 25 languages, Farley Mowat is one of Canada's most successful writers. He and his wife, Claire Mowat, divide their time between Ontario and Nova Scotia.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
"A Whale for the Killing" chronicles the unlikely and you might also say, unseemly doings in a small Newfoundland outport in the 1960s. In what soon proved to be a run of bad luck, one of the largest of the sea mammals, a Fin whale, found itself trapped in a huge body of water near the town of Burgeo. It had managed to just slide over a rocky underwater escarpment and get into the bay, but try as it might it could not get out again.
Farley Mowat's part in the story is rather extraordinary and I won't go into it in detail here, for fear of spoiling it. Suffice it to say that he becomes, as far as such a thing is possible, the trapped whale's guardian and broadcasts the story of its plight throughout the world. His relationship with the mammal develops in conjunction with his relationship with the townspeople of Burgeo and the local and provincial authorities. I would not like to call this a thrilling story, because that seems hardly appropriate, but it is a dramatic one whichever way you look at it. In the process of attempting to rescue the whale, Mowat (and now, through the book, us) learns a great deal more about human nature than he might have imagined he would, beforehand.
Farley Mowat has written innumerable books about wildlife, the environment and the Canadian wilderness in general. This is a book he scarcely planned to write but he brings to it all the skills of the writer who has practised his art over many years. It is a first-rate story about living on Earth in the twentieth century, and it should be widely read for the message it contains about the frailty of all existence.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Farley Mowat has often been criticised for his "embellishments", but while his facts may be suspect his motives are sincere. 'A Whale For the Killing' is a gut-wrenching look at the way we treat our oceans and our world in general. Mowat, always a pleasure to read, made me feel both angry and ashamed in this wonderful book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is one of the most powerful books I have ever read and although I have not read all of Mowat's books I have read most of them and this, so far, in my opinion, is his best.

Although the book takes place in Newfoundland it could have taken place anywhere in the world and with any animal or species. It is. indeed, a sad commentary on mankind. The ending of the book is not unexpected as one hears on the news on a daily basis incidents which there is no reason or rhyme for other than the bravado of mankind.

This is a must read if only to remind ourselves how indifferent to nature we are.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a profoundly moving and important book, and I cannot recommend it too highly. Immensely readable and full of fascinating insights into the other "nations" with which we humans share this planet, it is also one of the very few books I have ever read which changed the direction of my life. For anyone who wants to truly understand this world in which we find ourselves this is one of the "must read" books.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa5cd1a2c) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa48f5834) out of 5 stars A true story with unexpectedly clear symbolism May 30 2000
By Owen Hughes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"A Whale for the Killing" chronicles the unlikely and you might also say, unseemly doings in a small Newfoundland outport in the 1960s. In what soon proved to be a run of bad luck, one of the largest of the sea mammals, a Fin whale, found itself trapped in a huge body of water near the town of Burgeo. It had managed to just slide over a rocky underwater escarpment and get into the bay, but try as it might it could not get out again.
Farley Mowat's part in the story is rather extraordinary and I won't go into it in detail here, for fear of spoiling it. Suffice it to say that he becomes, as far as such a thing is possible, the trapped whale's guardian and broadcasts the story of its plight throughout the world. His relationship with the mammal develops in conjunction with his relationship with the townspeople of Burgeo and the local and provincial authorities. I would not like to call this a thrilling story, because that seems hardly appropriate, but it is a dramatic one whichever way you look at it. In the process of attempting to rescue the whale, Mowat (and now, through the book, us) learns a great deal more about human nature than he might have imagined he would, beforehand.
Farley Mowat has written innumerable books about wildlife, the environment and the Canadian wilderness in general. This is a book he scarcely planned to write but he brings to it all the skills of the writer who has practised his art over many years. It is a first-rate story about living on Earth in the twentieth century, and it should be widely read for the message it contains about the frailty of all existence.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa48f5888) out of 5 stars A moving story well-told March 16 2006
By Mike Christie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Newfoundland is the easternmost outpost of Canada in the North Atlantic, and in 1962, Farley Mowat, already a well known writer, moved to the town of Burgeo on its desolate south coast. The area was remote, reachable only by the weekly steamer and an occasional chartered seaplane. Mowat loved it there, and in the first fifty pages says much about the beauty of the place and the friendly inhabitants.

The local economy was based on fishing, with a recently opened fish-freezing plant. Mowat is scornful of the fish-freezing plant, and generally of much of the modern influences he sees around him -- he calls it "compulsive consumerism, the universal sickness of modern society". In early 1967, the contrast between his views on the world and those of his fellow-villagers were brought shockingly into focus when a seventy foot pregnant Fin whale was trapped in a "natural aquarium" called Aldridge Pond.

It was several days before Mowat found out about the whale. In that time numerous locals had used up almost all the ammunition in the village shooting the whale with high-powered rifles, and had rammed it in a speed boat to carve open its back, for sport. When Mowat found out he tried with little success to get the local authorities to protect the whale, and sent some information to a Canadian news organization to try to get academic interest in the chance to study a big Fin whale up close. That led to a flood of publicity, and simultaneously to much of the village turning against Mowat for being an "outsider" and refusing to let them do as they pleased. Mowat tried to keep their boats from Aldridge Pond and their bullets away from the whale, and many of the locals saw him as an interfering foreigner.

The whale died, ultimately, hungry and in agony from innumerable infected bullet wounds. The last few chapters show Mowat almost out of his mind with rage and frustration at the bureaucratic hurdles in his way and at the bloodthirstiness of his fellow men.

Mowat has been criticized for tailoring his stories to fit his agenda: his motto is "Never let the facts interfere with the truth". However, I'm not aware that this particular story was much changed -- the whale really did exist and did die as he describes. The book is certainly propaganda for the view that humans should live and let live, but it is also a terrific story.

The book is well-written, and is a stirring and depressing read; although one would like to think a modern community would be less bloody in its response to a whale. Recommended.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa48f5cc0) out of 5 stars A painful story that must be told. Aug. 1 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Turtleback
This Farley Mowat book, written in the early 1970s, is one that grabs ahold of you. I could not set it down. It's a true story of a trapped whale off the Newfoundland coast and what happens because of the stupidity of humans. Farley Mowat uses the story to tell of the plight of all whales in human hands. Though much has changed since this was written, whales are still threatened and the story will still disturb you.
A touching, honest, beatifully written true story. This is book that you will not forget after reading.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa485b084) out of 5 stars A novel only Farley Mowat could write Nov. 1 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Farley Mowat has often been criticised for his "embellishments", but while his facts may be suspect his motives are sincere. 'A Whale For the Killing' is a gut-wrenching look at the way we treat our oceans and our world in general. Mowat, always a pleasure to read, made me feel both angry and ashamed in this wonderful book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa48f5e40) out of 5 stars Brilliant Storytelling, UTTERLY depressing Nov. 20 2009
By Daniel Mackler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Farley Mowat is a brilliant storyteller--one of my favorites--but in spite of his brilliance the book (especially the first half) is SO UTTERLY DEPRESSING that I could barely get through it. In fact, I tried reading this book five years ago but got so depressed I stopped it about a third of the way through. The depressing part is the incredible human cruelty toward whales--including ignorance, brutality, ultra-exploitation, and downright petty viciousness--all of which Mowat juxtaposes against wonderfully told vignettes and scientific insights into whale biology. Perhaps he (known for his occasional literary exaggerations) was attempting to ratchet up the emotion in the story, and if so, it worked, par excellance--but worked TOO MUCH. The book really borders on being too painful to read.

Meanwhile, if the first half is the more depressing part, the second half is the supposedly hopeful and courageous part, in which a seventy foot long pregnant female fin whale swims into and gets trapped in a relatively small saltwater "pond" in Newfoundland, and Mowat and others try to rescue her in the midst of a partially hostile town which torments her with speedboats (for "fun"), shoots her over a hundred times with heavy army rifles (for "sport"--and they even try to shoot her in the eye), and doesn't care if she lives or dies. Although yes, this part is MORE hopeful--and full of more of gifted storytelling and valuable biological insights--it is still full of so much depression and misery and nauseating short-sightedness that it risks crushing any hopefulness.

This leads to my main problem with the book: I found it to lack redemptive value in the broader sense. Basically, it's a story of misery and human idiocy and the impending extinction of some of the most beautiful and majestic creatures on earth. I know this is reality--and something we must face--but I still wish Mowat offered more of a vision of what we should do. Of course, there is value in simply stating the problem, and stating is poignantly, but still...I'm looking for something more.

And personally--and call me unfair--I feel annoyed that Mowat didn't take more of a stand early on against the vicious townspeople. I understand that it's terrifying to stand up against a mindless (armed) mob when you're a semi-outsider hoping for acceptance by the town, but still...I have my fantasy hope. Or is it fantasy?

I believe that to really change the world we have to be willing to risk everything.


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