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A Whale Hunt: How a Native-American Village Did What No One Thought It Could

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  101 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
For centuries the hunting of the whale was what defined the Makah, a Native American tribe in Neah Bay, but when commercial whaling drove the gray whale to near extinction in the 1920s, the Makah voluntarily discontinued their tradition and hung up their harpoons. In 1994, after the gray whale was taken off the endangered species list, the Makah decided to hunt again. The ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 16th 2002 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2000)
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Chana
The Makah Indian Tribe hunts a whale, which is their right by treaty.
The Save the Whales people and other anti-whaling people try their best to stop the hunt.
This is big news in every country that has hunted whales.
But the IWC has given permission. So the Makah Indians try to learn how to whale like their ancestors. They practice and pray and argue. Not every Makah Indian is in favor of whale hunting, not every white person is against. But the situation does stir up a lot of anti-Indian sentim
...more
Andy
May 26, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a sometimes PETA donor, I approached this book steadfastly opposed to the idea of a modern whale hunt—Native American or otherwise—but through Robert Sullivan’s sympathetic account of the Makah tribe, I found myself gradually warming to the Makah’s plan.

Sullivan account is moving, in part, because he embeds himself in the life of the tribe— hanging out with the young men as they train for the hunt, paling around with the support crew, sleeping in a leaky tent at the edge of town, taking his m
...more
Kenno82
Dec 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
found this book in a local second-hand bookstore. I knew nothing of the Makah tribe or the whale hunt, but knew immediately that the book would be a fascinating read. Native whaling rights in an age of vehement opposition to whaling was bound to be explosive subject matter.

The author doesn't sensationalise the issue. He lets the story unfold at its own pace, with humour. While he undertakes his own journey, including interludes on Moby-Dick, he does not preach a particular view. The story itsel
...more
Ruth
Jul 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love the way the author winds his way in and out of the stories of all the people involved in the controversy over the hunt of the grey whale by the Makah people. He talks to the idealistic protestors, the organizers of the hunt, and everyone in between, while all the time inserting footnotes about Melville and Moby Dick and trying to see connections among these literary, symbolic and historic journeys. I didn't want the book to end b/c I like the way he thinks. I have to get to Neah Bay this ...more
Charles Peter
Jun 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started this book, wondering how such a story could or should be written at a time, when Whales are so endangered, but getting into the mind and culture of this Indian tribe (the Makah)made me think, and made me rethink my whole way of looking at the earth and its problems. It is all a lot more complex than one could ever think. It also reads well as a travel book, though the writing is not always at an even level, but give it a read, and thrill yourself.
Barb
Jun 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Non-fiction book retelling the tale of a modern day whale hunt. Author's style is somewhat slow and hard to continue to read, but the story itself is good. If you are interested at all in the issue of whaling, it's an important piece to read.
Crista
Apr 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing story. The middle of the story gets dry, but the overall book is an incredible look at a piece of hidden american society and struggle.
Richard
Aug 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Might be one of my favorite books.
Michelle Boyer
This was a book that I was torn on while reading, finding myself liking certain parts but then really not liking other parts. The book discusses the successful Makah whale hunt, which revolves around Makah (a Native American tribe) and their decision to establish a gray whale hunt after the species was removed from the Endangered Species List (due to a rise and recovery in the population). In such, one would assume that the book is about the issues surrounding this hunt, reported to us by Robert ...more
Stephen
I don't know why, but the way that Sullivan told this story really just bothered the shit out of me. It's like he couldn't make up his mind on whether he wanted to write the book from a neutral standpoint, or if he wanted to write it in favor of the Makah (which he clearly was). His research was pretty weak, and it felt like he just threw the book together after he hung around the Makah for a while and watched the hunt, but realized it would sell better if he played it like he had some deep spir ...more
Dan
Mar 01, 2007 rated it it was ok
The New York Times Magazine article that her wrote on the subject will suffice. He doesn't have that much more to say on the topic, other than some personal anecdotes.
Katie
May 27, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not engaging at all! Very hard to make myself read. I finally gave up ( which I never do!)
Pablo
Jun 26, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
ok. maybe it's not totally brilliant, but it is for the most part really well written and a great read. thanks to moe for the excellent suggestion.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Robert Sullivan is the author of Rats, The Meadowlands, A Whale Hunt, and most recently, The Thoreau You Don’t Know. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, New York magazine, A Public Space, and Vogue, where he is a contributing editor. He was born in Manhattan and now lives in Brooklyn,
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