Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss among Vanishing Orcas” as Want to Read:
Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss among Vanishing Orcas
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.26  ·  Rating Details ·  210 Ratings  ·  39 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 of a decades-long caree
Published January 15th 2013 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2013)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Into Great Silence, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Into Great Silence

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 29, 2016 Ana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animals, bios
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

{Ms. Saulitis recently passed away. This review is dedicated to her memory. And to her beloved transient orca whales.}

I think I broke some kind of record. I teared up reading the prologue. I almost never cry at books/movies/shows, but this one got me. It hit me right in the feels.

When I was twenty-three, I saw my first orca, a lone female. That day, I had no inkling that I would study her kin for my entire adult life, tha
Jan 02, 2016 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this book when Eva was in her last days, and somewhere in the middle of the book, she ventured into the realm of "and then..." So my heart is broken in two for the whales and for Eva. But I am in awe of this book--how it is biology and spirituality so inevitably intertwined. It's not necessarily a new way of seeing or understanding the natural world, but Eva found a way to put this way of knowing into words.
Dec 03, 2012 Amara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Erin Hollowell
Feb 18, 2013 Erin Hollowell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Devastating and beautiful.
missy jean
Sep 04, 2014 missy jean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Holly Madison
Jan 15, 2013 Holly Madison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
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
Kristal Cooper
Dec 01, 2012 Kristal Cooper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Eva Saulitis began studying a particular population of killer whales in Alaska's Prince William Sound a year before the Exxon Valdez disaster. One just has to look at the family tree illustration inside the back cover - or apply common sense - to know that it doesn't end well for these whales. Although every page I turned built my feelings of dread, I still enjoyed the journey thanks to the author's beautiful prose. She's a true naturalist and gives vivid descriptions of the weather, terrain, bi ...more
Lyssa deHart
Jan 28, 2014 Lyssa deHart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group
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
Sep 08, 2015 Andi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I still have tears drying on my cheeks from finishing this book. I'm grieving the whales and the life of before . . . I'm traveling the channels of orcas with my dreams.

Saulitis' words are beautiful, honest, rich in science and beauty. I cannot recommend this memoir enough.

This book has shifted something in me, something that had slid out of place. I don't yet know how I will live the days ahead, but I know I will live differently.
Michelle Rau
Nov 21, 2014 Michelle Rau rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 03, 2015 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting and was sad to see how much we mess up the planet and harm animals as well :( but overall a very good and informative read and made me want to go on a whale watch
Aug 14, 2015 AdiTurbo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very little about Orcas and their ways, to much about the life of the writer, long descriptions of nothing at all, no developments whatsoever. Just too bored to continue.
Ellen Naylor
Nov 29, 2016 Ellen Naylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a sad book, as it's Eva's story of the loss of orcas after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill. She studied the transient orca population in Alaska for over 20 years. My husband and I traveled to the Kenai Peninsula to celebrate a big anniversary. I understood how people could get bit by the Alaska bug, as nature there is like nowhere I have ever been.

This moving story took me to a place inside that I didn't know I had. While in Alaska we had seen some Orcas do their wonderful dance. I bonded wi
Jun 17, 2013 Dee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Carolyn Keel
Feb 13, 2014 Carolyn Keel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads-wins
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.
Ecoute Sauvage
Jan 24, 2013 Ecoute Sauvage rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 21, 2013 Marianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Tim Anderson
Dec 31, 2012 Tim Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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
Mary Dunk
Mar 16, 2017 Mary Dunk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jordan Lahn
Jun 18, 2013 Jordan Lahn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shelf_library
This book took a while for me to get through, but it was beautiful and poetic throughout. The author really captured the sense of excitement and wonder seeing these animals inspires, followed by the sense of mystery and awe at how little we know about their lives after they disappear beneath the waves. The loss of this unique group of orcas is heartbreaking when experienced through Eva's eyes.
Feb 18, 2015 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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..
Pam Kirst
Jan 29, 2017 Pam Kirst rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Knowing the end of Eva Saulitis's story made reading this tremendously poignant. The fact that she grew up six miles from my hometown, and attended the same undergrad school caught me, too.
Jan 20, 2016 Kit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do you think the damage from the Exxon Valdez was not permanent? Read this book, and you will think again.
Aug 20, 2016 Kathi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
an amazing book by a scientist poet. stunning at every level
Lyrical, beautiful, causes you to slow down and ponder. Prepare to grieve.
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
It was an interesting read because you got a sense of how biologists really live and gather data on the species that they study. The monotony of waiting for whales to surface, followed by quick interactions and the gathering of data- the author did a good job conveying this but it also made the read slightly boring because you kept turning the page, waiting for whale sitings too. The other part of the book that I did find very interesting was the perspective on the Exxon Valdez spill. I remember ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Listening to Whales: What the Orcas Have Taught Us
  • How Animals Grieve
  • The Lost Whale: The True Story of an Orca Named Luna
  • Orca: The Whale Called Killer
  • Of Orcas and Men: What Killer Whales Can Teach Us
  • Killing for Profit
  • Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures
  • The Dolphin in the Mirror: Exploring Dolphin Minds and Saving Dolphin Lives
  • Swimming with Orca: My Life with New Zealand's Killer Whales
  • Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks
  • The Great Penguin Rescue: 40,000 Penguins, a Devastating Oil Spill, and the Inspiring Story of the World's Largest Animal Rescue
  • Lucky Dog: How Being a Veterinarian Saved My Life
  • The Medici Giraffe and Other Tales of Exotic Animals and Power
  • The Odyssey of KP2: An Orphan Seal, a Marine Biologist, and the Fight to Save a Species
  • Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched: Life and Lessons at the World's Premier School for Exotic Animal Trainers
  • The $60,000 Dog: My Life with Animals
  • The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss
  • 100 Heartbeats: A Journey to Meet Our Planet's Endangered Animals and the Heroes Working to Save Them
Eva Saulitis was 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, i ...more
More about Eva Saulitis...

Share This Book