HARPOON VENTURE by Gavin Maxwell
Kirkus Star


Email this review


Unusual reporting- in its background and its subject- on an unsuccessful business venture, this tells of the frustrations, the special brand of ill-luck, the obstacles that the attempts to introduce a new industry to the Hebrides encountered. The author thought his war time dreams had come true when shark fishing and a factory for rendering all parts of the fish was started on the island of Solay; through the years, his efforts were pursued by internecine feuds, financial and practical hurdles, inadequate communications and transport. From the wrong kind of boat, to guns that misfired, to complete ignorance in methods of freighting sharks back to the factory, and with the most important blunder -- that of trying to process the whole shark rather than just his liver- Captain Maxwell confronted impossible odds but the compensations of the wonder and surprise of the immediate life, on the boats or on land, were almost justified. There were competitors, there was the inability to lick either time or the weather, there were many mechanical clinkers and setbacks before shark fishing began to prove itself but in the end the company folded. Here are the wonderful islands, the strange facts of the little known basking shark, the other fish, the birds -- all in vivid brilliance; here too the men and the boats and the excitement -- and disappointments -- in their working life. An excellent man's book in a wholly different field. There is an appendix of scientific material on whales, including white, grampus, porpoise, seals and the ocean sunfish and the book will be illustrated with photographs. If you doubt the public response to the subject, stop in at Museum of Natural History (NYC) newly opened under sea life exhibit.

Pub Date: June 16th, 1952
ISBN: 0548444870
Publisher: Viking