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Big Miracle

3.39  ·  Rating Details  ·  210 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Now a major motion picture starring Drew Barrymore, Ted Danson, Kristen Bell, Tim Blake Nelson, John Krasinski, and Vinessa Shaw—an account of the dramatic rescue of three gray whales trapped under the ice in Alaska in 1988.
Set in Cold War–era 1988, Big Miracle tells the real story behind the remarkable, bizarre, and oftentimes uproarious event that mesmerized the world fo
ebook, 336 pages
Published December 20th 2011 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published November 1st 1989)
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Feb 20, 2012 Juli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-books
I loved the parallel stories going on throughout this book, not only the rescuing of the 3 gray whales, but also the story on how the media portrayed the event. I enjoyed reading about how the media went about to get the story since its a view that many people don't get to see often. It was a lengthy book and at times I wondered if I would miss something if I just skipped a part but I didn't and I made it through the book.
Emily Park
This is a review of an advanced copy provided to me through Goodreads' FirstReads program.

Big Miracle is the true story of the rescue of three trapped whales in 1988. The whales started their southern migration too late in the summer season, and soon found themselves trapped in the ice near Barrow, Alaska (the northernmost point of the United States). The story became an international tale, with people all around the world watching the events unfold on TV, and with an international group of peop
Kristen Hauck
Feb 12, 2012 Kristen Hauck rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 29, 2011 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I am so glad I won a prerelease copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads! I really enjoyed it. I found the story of the whale rescue very interesting--but for all the reasons Rose chose to emphasize through his analysis. Especially coming from a journalism background, I was fascinated by how the media event transpired. It was also intriguing to read it while living in today's economy. People would have reacted in a much different way had this happened today, rather than during the 80s.

Mar 30, 2012 Rachel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2012
Big Miracle is the book that inspired the movie of the same name. I haven't seen the movie yet and couldn't find a release date for the DVD. However, from what I could gather from reading about the movie online, it differs markedly from the book. It would have to - there is no way that Drew Barrymore would star in a movie that was as cynical about environmentalism and animal welfare as author Tom Rose's book is.

This book is a non-fiction account of the 1988 rescue attempt of three California Gra
Rob Moir
Apr 12, 2012 Rob Moir rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The author's biases are unpleasantly blatant. At first I suffered his insults of environmentalists because it gave me a better sense of why Alaskans hate environmentalists. Then the author goes overboard. First there was the complaint that the government subsidizes clean energy research as if that was a lot of money. He does not mention that government subsidizes oil and gas by more than 1,000 times what is given to clean energy. This is only the beginning of his anger that people should care fo ...more
BIG MIRACLE by Tom Rose is the nonfiction story of a nonevent (Rose’s word) in 1988 that became so huge it captured the attention of the world and just about preempted a presidential election in the United States. In Barrow, Alaska, “the tip of the world,” three whales were trapped beneath ice and couldn’t migrate south to warmer waters as they did every year at that time. They would die when a hole in the ice froze over and they were unable to breathe.

This was a nonevent, says Rose, because it
If you're looking for a book that remotely resembles the awesome looking movie trailer that has Drew Barymore starring in it, set to release in February 2012, this is NOT the book for you. I've never seen an author do such a terrible job writing an awesome story. One would think, it would not be terribly hard to portray an inspiring and beautiful story. I'm QUITE sure that this is one of the rare cases that the movie will be FAR better than this book can ever hope to be.

The author is not a main
Big Miracle is an excellent book - but maybe not for the reasons most people pick it up. This is a bizarre but remarkable story of how oil company executives, Green peace activists, Eskimos, businessmen, and military officers heroically worked together to save three Gray Whales trapped in the Arctic ice. It is also the story of a political liaison between the American and Russian governments during the Cold War and how millions of dollars were spent on what the Inuit people considered an ordinar ...more
Apr 17, 2016 Andrew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although the author does a good job in covering the world events that were involved with the whale rescue, one can't help but wonder why he wrote the book. I understand mentioning the awe and bewilderment to why this story became newsworthy and had such a global impact, but there are several times where there is almost a visceral disdain for the subject. At first I found it sort of funny, but as it went on I kept thinking "if even the author doesn't find this worth talking about, then why am I r ...more
May 30, 2014 Virginia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Read my review of this book and others at

Today I finished reading Big Miracle by Tom Rose. This book is the non-fiction story about three whales that were found trapped in the ice off of Alaska, and the public interest with media storm that led to a rescue attempt. The author is one of the journalists who was in Alaska during a portion of the rescue.

The story itself is fascinating as far as how multifaceted this rescue became. It went from a single Inuit
Apr 17, 2012 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found 'Big Miracle' a fascinating story about how one non-event turned into the event of the Century. 3 whales trapped under the ice in Alaska create a snowball effect on the world, capturing the help and attention of media, Green Peace, Oil companies, the National Guard, the President of the USA, Inuits, the Soviets and more.... 3 Wales trapped under the ice is just the beginning of the story.
I give 'Big Miracle' 4 and a half stars.
Jun 14, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book at my school's book fair. I was most attracted to the fact that it was about to be a movie. (Books made into movies tend to be popular among the students.) I had never heard of the incident.

In my defense, in 1998, I was a sophomore in college. My dorm only had one television which was shared in the commons room. Seniors had priorities on the channels so I didn't watch much television. So this story was new to me.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I learned about life in the Arctic
A good read, but personally I thought "Big Miracle" was a catchier and more positive title. I appreciate the fact that the author dosen't gloss over the sometimes less than admirable qualities of some of the parties involved, it doesn't take away from the good that all the groups accomplished but it made them more interesting, warts and all.
J L's Bibliomania
I seem to be running into a lot of books that I skid out of recently. This is yet another where the cover blurb is great, but the rest is thin and not enough to sustain interest - at least not as an audiobook where it is hard to skim ahead. I got fed up around CD3 and switched to light fiction instead.
Don Weidinger
Jul 08, 2014 Don Weidinger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
9K mile migration to CA, darkness 2 months, IWC well intentioned and unintended outcomes, thick polar icecap, govt assistance to Eskimos more calamitous than history, whale diet with min heart disease, environmentalist actions preventing pipelines, resilient recovery of Prudhoe Bay, limousine liberals, ice growing mile/day, if news expected not news, increased wealth increased care for environment vs poor inefficient pollution, seal butter, 1100 scientific whales vs culinary for Japan, 10mile tr ...more
Abby Lee
Unfortunately, the book just needed a better editor. He story itself is fascinating. You get a really good look at Native culture and how white people have negatively affected it. You get an honest view of whales, survival and the Arctic, and it's very entertaining.

But the story gets repetitive and isn't always organized well. The structure jumps around in time, in plot points, and more, and the author eventually starts repeating facts again and again.

Maybe you'd be better off watching the movie
This was an early review book I received with the title "Everybody Loves Whales". I'm told that "Big Miracle" differs only in updated information on people and events. I received this about the same time that the movie came out and I haven't seen the movie so I don't know how it differed. This is a fairly well written story about the rescue attempt of three gray whales imprisoned in Arctic ice. The author, Tom Rose covered the 1988 whale rescue as a reporter and producer for Japanese TV. This bo ...more
Ray Barlow
Jan 14, 2012 Ray Barlow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm looking forward to this movie. I just finished reading this newest edition by Tom Rose, and I compared the real people's names that were involved with the rescue to the character names from Universal.

Universal created new names for all the top people involved in the rescue. They even invented a new name for the Governor of Alaska in 1988. For example, the Greenpeace woman's name is really Cindy Lowery, not Racheal Kramer. The real governor's name was STEVE COWPER, not Governor Haskell. The g
I really enjoyed the whale story aspect and did not like the media aspect of the story. It really made me aware of how much control the media has in providing news to us. I skimmed a fair bit only because the author was such a cynic. The original title was "Freeing the Whales: How the Media Created the World's Greatest Non-Event," a far cry from the more inspirational cover about uniting the world. Sad that the author's opinion was that this was a waste of time and money to prevent whale deaths ...more
Jan 27, 2016 Mae rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is written in a very choppy way, and it's pretty unpleasant to read. The narrator repeatedly bashes other reporters and their views, which gets annoying, especially when he says everything in such a bland way.
Feb 04, 2013 Llima rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As a reporter, you would expect Tom Rose to be merely an observer, to keep his opinions to himself, but this is totally not the case. He constantly bashed people whose policies he did not agree with and made it completely one-sided. Then there's the little issue of him jumping around constantly which made things even more difficult to keep up with. Plus, the book should have come with a glossary in the back because they were waaaaaaaaaaaay too many people to keep track of.

On a side note - do not
Linda Harkins
Dec 03, 2015 Linda Harkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a most interesting account of how stranded California Gray Whales in Alaska were saved in 1988.
Feb 03, 2014 Olgalijo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really worth the reading. The authors gives insights into arctic life, the working of big newscast agencies, the influence of the "white" man on native life, international politics and much more.
Gloria Kohli
Jan 30, 2014 Gloria Kohli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I luv this book because it was a very emotional but serious book. It was also very inspiring.
Cecelia Hightower
Feb 15, 2012 Cecelia Hightower rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bill
Bill started reading the book about the cooperative effort to save three gray whales trapped in the ice up north. Half way through the first chapter the book said the native hunters didn't need to hunt whales and there weren't any digital cameras and it was difficult to take pictures in the super cold using 35 mm film rolls. Skipped around through the book and it seemed to me a lot of ink was used to just fill pages. Subject matter was great, but presentation did not carry the story, sorry. Book ...more
Linda Hunt
I enjoyed the story behind the book. That said, I did not enjoy the great amount of editorializing that was present throughout the book. I began to have the tendency to skip through those paragraphs containing the author's personal feelings - even though I agreed with many of them. Also, the closer I got to the end of the book, the more proofing errors I found - things that should have been caught and corrected before the book was sent to print. Overall, the story was a good one, and the author ...more
May 06, 2012 Leesa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Big Miracle is an awesome book. Although it has a lot of history background (which I didn't enjoy), it is one of the best books I have read. Three Gray Whales stranded themselves in Barrow, Alaska. The U.S.A. attempt's to save them, and eventually resulting in two of the whales being saved. Tom Rose ,the author of this book, is one of the reporters assigned to cover the Gray Whales story. The three wales were the biggest story of the 20th century untill the Exxon Valdeze oil spill, both occurrin ...more
Nov 01, 2014 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Only made it part way through--very boring narrative on what initially seemed to be a compelling event.
Aug 04, 2012 Lauren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I definitely liked the movie better then the book, there where big portions of the book that I actually skipped. I hated to do that, but I felt like I was being fed unnecessary information. It almost felt like one long newspaper article. The event itself was more interesting then the book. The movie was more fluid of a story, I actually felt some compassion for the characters. I would probably see the movie again before reading this book again.
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