SONG OF THE WHALE by Rex Weyler

SONG OF THE WHALE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

What begins as a loving account of researcher Paul Spong's inquiries into the intelligence of the killer whale is marred by a tub-thumping harangue. Weyler, a journalist with New Age Journal and author of Blood of the Land and Chop Wood, Carry Water, worked alongside Spong from 1974 to 1979, during which time Spong made many startling discoveries while observing captive orcas at the University of British Columbia. The orca, generally considered to be a vicious killer, was, Spong discovered, gentle, playful, social, sensitive, and perceptive. Spong became obsessed with finding the secrets of the whale's intelligence, to the point of being fired by the university for his outspokenness. Undeterred, he took to studying the animal in the wild. Unfortunately, what starts out as a fine essay on research deteriorates into a fixation. Near the end of the book, Spong is haranguing a friend: ""No compromise! That's it! It's no more right to kill just a few whales or keep just a few in captivity than it is okay to have a tiny Auschwitz or just a few slaves."" Later, he laments that ""even Greenpeace seems to be going middle-of-the-road."" His friend sums up this book unwittingly when he replies, ""Too bad the whales don't write history books, or you might be a hero."" Fine till the shrillness sets in.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1986
Publisher: Doubleday