Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Big Miracle” as Want to Read:
Big Miracle
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Big Miracle

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  267 ratings  ·  64 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
Paperback, 336 pages
Published December 20th 2011 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published November 1st 1989)
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 Big Miracle, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Big Miracle

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  267 ratings  ·  64 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Big Miracle
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
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
Kristen Hauck
Feb 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Clare O'Beara
A news reporter covers the story of the media frenzy which arose after three California grey whales were trapped by ice off Barrow, Alaska, at the onset of 1988's winter. We start with an account of a hunt of a bowhead whale, which the native people find much tastier. If these three juvenile whales had been bowheads they would have been eaten. Subsistence whaling is no longer needed for the townspeople who can spend a million dollars on a school, and using explosive harpoons can hardly be called ...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
Rob Moir
Apr 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.

Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
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.
Apr 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Good, detailed account of the Save the Whales story. It included many detailed tangents into the backstories of everyone involved, some of which started back when people were born, which might've been a bit excessive. The reporterish hyperbole got annoying after a while (the "This was totally astounding because a, b, and c, I'd never seen anything like it, it was absolutely incredible" combined with spoilers of what lay ahead in the story), there was one at least once per chapter. The narrator ...more
Christine Sinclair
Jul 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Great story, so-so writing. This book was the basis for the movie starring Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski (LOVE him) which was very touching and heartwarming. The book is much more cynical, calling the whale rescue a "non-event" that became a media frenzy. I liked it, but the typos and poor editing became annoying after a while.
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed hearing the many stories that were brought together. This reminds me that the world isn’t totally lost, we need more opportunities to bring our talents together to make life a little brighter and less cold.
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: listened-to
Really interesting about native cultures & how the whaling laws work.
Huguette Larochelle
in 1988 , 3 whales got stranded by ice , and the world care to save them.
fascinating story .
Mike Wood
A feel good story told by a complete crank, which at first was a welcome break from all the warm fuzzies, but soon wore thin. Whatever happened to the reporter not becoming part of the story?
Angie Bair
Jan 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
I ended up abandoning this book due to poor writing/editing. The movie cannot help but be far greater than the book.
May 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
John Somers
8/20. In 1988 environmentalists, oil companies, Native-Americans (Inuit) the US military, some american inventors and a Soviet Ice-Breaker ship came together to rescue 3 Gray Whales trapped by the winter pack-ice. Theses a cheery kids movie about it somehow based on the book. The authors a journalist who is pissed off that the worlds media was dispatched to Alaska to cover a story he deems unimportant. After reading this book I got the feeling that he dislikes other journalists, hates ...more
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 ...more
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Ray Barlow
Jan 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
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
Jul 07, 2014 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 ...more
Linda Hunt
Apr 17, 2012 rated it liked it
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
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Shipping Forecast: A Miscellany
  • Drowning With Others
  • A Raid Over Berlin
  • The Life and Death of a Druid Prince
  • Around the World in 80 Days: Companion to the PBS Series
  • You Changed My Life
See similar books…
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »