"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.
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.
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.