War of the Whales: A True Story
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: July 2014
Duration: 13 hours 41 minutes
War of the Whales tells the unlikely story of a maverick marine scientist who discovered one of the U.S. Navy's best-kept secrets: a submarine surveillance system originally designed to mimic marine mammal bio-sonar that became, ironically, an acoustic assault on an endangered species. When dozens of whales mysteriously began stranding on the shore of the small Caribbean island where Balcomb had studied marine life for years, the lone scientist challenged federal authorities with his assertion that the strandings were caused by sonar from U.S. Navy submarines.
In response to the unexplained deaths of dozens of whales, one of the nation's most respected (and feared) environmental lawyers, Joel Reynolds, took action to hold the Navy accountable in a court of law. Working with Balcomb and his team from the National Resources Defense Council, the activists mounted a long battle on behalf of marine mammals against the world's most powerful Navy, which disputed the charges and held firm in its belief that its sonar submarine exercises were vital to America's national security. The battle went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Author Joshua Horwitz weaves into War of the Whales the hidden history of the Cold War competition that spurred the development of the submarine and of sonar technology. His book is written with all the ingredients of great narrative nonfiction: heroic idealists, scientific mystery, legal drama, natural history, and military intrigue.