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Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss among Vanishing Orcas

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  100 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Science entwines with matters of the human heart as a whale researcher chronicles the lives of an endangered family of orcas

Ever since Eva Saulitis began her whale research in Alaska in the 1980s, she has been drawn deeply into the lives of a single extended family of endangered orcas struggling to survive in Prince William Sound.Over the course ofa decades-long career s
Published January 15th 2013 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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It was...okay. Eva Saulitis is definitely not a minimalist in her writing style. I found 2 big things lacking in this book.

#1 - I know this may be a small detail to some, but the map was too minimal. How ironic?! Ms. Saulitis believes in writing in such a flowery style, but leaves major details out of the map. She keeps talking about Whale Camp. I'd refer to the map to see where she was talking about...nothing. Then she kept talking about the Labyrinth. Again, I went back to the map...nothing.
A copy of this book was provided free via Edelweiss for the purpose of review.

tl;dr version: It's been quite a while since a book has had as great an emotional effect on me as Eva Saulitis's Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss Among Vanishing Orcas. By the end of the book, I was very close to tearing up; it's quite a touching story, and the reality of it resonates with me.

My full review can be read at Amara's Eden.
I'm going to have to do a much bigger (and more polished) review of this later but I had to write something now:

I loved slipping into the world of the Prince William Sound and the Chugach Transients with Eva Saulitis as a guide. Her writing is a pretty perfect mix of hard science but also emotion and personal reflection. Seeing her struggle with the horrific effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 on the Sound, it's creatures (the transiet orcas in particular), and herself was incredibly m
missy ward-lambert
This book is memoirs of Saulitis's early years studying a family of orca whales in Prince William Sound. There is science about orcas here, and there is also the poetry of place, and ruminations on the fruited blank spaces (of species and individuals) across which science cannot reach.

Eye to eye with an imprisoned orca, Saulitis writes: "Watching him, I felt the way I had the previous summer, seeing orcas swim through crude oil sheens--culpable, part of the mechanized world, reducible to the sum
warning: the "loss" in the title refers in part to the results of the Exxon Valdez oil spill... which makes parts of this book very bleak (though still more than worth one's time).
I think part of why I feel sort of conflicted in my opinions about this book is that I didn't really know what to expect going in. I've read and loved quite a few autobiographies by cetacean researchers, and find the particular combination of science and personal history that categorizes them to be fascinating. Starting this book, I anticipated something like that - but that isn't what this book is. Where other memoirs tend to be predominantly narrative, Saulitis's book is much more descriptive ...more
Holly Madison
I was so happy to receive this book from the Goodreads giveaway. As an Environmental Science major (and animal lover), I have always found the looming threat of animal extinction to be very close to home. Orcas in particular are such precious, gentle giants... it's difficult to imagine that we humans can have such substantial and devastating impacts on nature without even realizing it's going on. The world is crashing down around us and most of us don't even care. And in the wake of pollution, o ...more
Tim Anderson
I won this in a giveaway and was hoping I would. Thank you so very much. It was a great read. I was drawn into the mystery of Chugach transient orcas from the beginning. Eva's passion was infectious. I got so caught up in her search for answers that I kept turning to the front to follow on the map. Regretfully I had to google and find a better map. I tried to figure out where whale camp was located and exactly where the Valdez ran aground. This was my only downfall with the book.
I was inspire
Into Great Silence, by Eva Saulitis, is a moving memoir of her time spent in Prince William Sound studying the AT1 Transient pod orcas, better known to the author and reader as the Chugach Transients. Saulitis starts her story by showing the reader exactly how she started her study and how her fascination with the orcas began. Interestingly enough, her first encounter occurred while she was working at a fish hatchery, in which she saw the pod of orcas swimming nearby. Seeing as she was already i ...more
Michelle Rau
This is a humbling, and scientific story about a passionate, budding biologist and one of nature's mysteries, the bond between orcas and their loyalty to their home. The battle between the love of such a majestic animal and science showed the parallels of mind over matter, so to speak.

A story that starts before the Exxon Valdez spill, and carries you through 25 years of heart breaking observations is beautifully written and poignant.

Read this if you like orcas, passion or science.
Lyssa Danehy deHart
I really enjoyed this book, I learned a lot about orcas and the symbiotic nature of life. It's by turns very scientific by observations, but it is clear that Eva loves these whales. From one of the scientific observations around the hunting orcas, I thought one of the quotes to remember was, "if there's a conversation of death, there's also an equally inscrutable conversation of life. There is death and there is play, and both are mysterious."

I learned something's I didn't know and I enjoyed to
Carolyn Keel
I received this through First Reads Giveaways.

This book was so heartbreakingly sad but beautiful. I am an animal lover through and through, and I will admit it. There were several times during this book when I started crying. I just couldn't help myself. Part of it had to do with the story itself, but part of it was the beautiful writing style of Ms. Saulitis. She writes wonderfully. I highly recommend this book to... well... anyone.
Another wonderful and sad book about orcas. I have been mildly obsessed with reading about Orcas since I saw blackfish. I guess there are not many happy books about orcas these days.... one of my lifelong dreams is to go see some orcas in the pacific northwest..
Henk-Jan van der Klis
Eva Saulitis shares her memoir of discovery and loss among vanishing Orcas in Into Great Silence. A biologist’s scientific eagerness meets human emotions such as loss and grief. Eva began her whale research in Alaska since 1986 in Prince William Sound. Instead of numbers or categories these giant fish show they’re a family. The effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989: a sudden stop in giving birth to calfs was fatal to the group. Into Great Silence got beautiful storytelling, a heartcry to ...more
A good companion to Death at Sea World, Saulitis' book is more lyrical and, while passionate in its advocation for the orcas and wildlife of Prince William Sound, it is not as polemical. Instead, it is richly personal, reading at times like a private journal, and indeed, several passages are taken directly from the author's journal and/or letters.

Saulitis researched the transient and Chugach resident killer whales for several years, and her journey of discovery - both of the whales and of hersel
There were two things which I took away from this book- how little we know about orcas and the irrevocable damage that humans do to our environment. The picture of the transients amid the oil spill and Eyak's death is haunting. A good book to read about the slow extinction of Alaska's transient orcas. Let us learn from their journey.
Michelle Jones
I have always loved marine mammals, so I was excited to read this book. Going into it, I knew it was a memoir, but I still felt like it spent too much time on Saulitis' feelings and personal experiences, and not enough time actually about the orcas. The book could also get quite wordy, but when it focused on the killer whales, I felt it was well done. I just wish it was only about the orcas.
Ecoute Sauvage
This is a great book on several levels. The author clearly loves orcas and has done wonders communicating with them - one wishes that she wouldn't call them "whales" though, as she obviously knows they are large dolphins.
Jennifer Boyce
I was excited to read this book but found that it didn't live up to my expectations. The writing style was dull and I found my attention wandering throughout the book. It was a challenge to even finish.
This is a chronicle of a population of Transients in Prince William Sound, Alaska and their subsequent decline following the Exxon Valdez oil spill, written by the biologist who studied them.
I hate to give this book such a low rating, but there was just no storyline. It failed to deliver anything more than a beautiful sense of the Sound and its creatures.
Why This Title Appeals to Readers
Tone Reflective, Moving
Writing Style Lyrical

- whales dealing with Exxon Valdez oil spill
Erin Hollowell
Devastating and beautiful.
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Eva Saulitis is the author of the forthcoming book, "Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss among Vanishing Orcas," (Beacon Press, 2012). She has studied whales in Prince William Sound, the Kenai Fjords, and Alaska's Aleutian Islands for the past twenty-four years. In addition to her scientific publications, her essays, poems, and reviews have appeared in numerous national journals, in ...more
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