Nonfiction — print. Free Press, 2007. 288 pgs. Library.
Subtitled “The Battle at the Bottom of the World to Save the Planet’s Largest Mammals”, Heller’s book recounts the time he spent aboard the Farley Mowat, the flagship of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and captained by its founder, Paul Watson. This is the first book I’ve read about Sea Shepherd not penned by the founder of the organization so I was excited to get a different perspective on the actions of the organization at sea.
I really appreciated how Heller supported and rejected SSCS’ actions using international law. He seems to be disgusted with whaling and the actions of Watson and his crew. One page condemns the actions of Japanese whalers, but the very next page calls Watson a pirate and denounces him for carrying guns on the ship (a fact that is never mentioned in Watson’s autobiographies or seen in the documentaries I’ve watched on the issue).
The organization is staffed by volunteers, and while that may mean the crew is not complicated by competing interests (mostly monetary), it does mean the crew is a ragtag ensemble of inexperienced people. I’ve seen the crew in action on TV but their absurdity takes on a whole new level through the eyes of Heller.
Heller’s book provided several interesting tidbits about this controversial issue, but I hated how he could not distance himself from his subject. Much of the book is spent recounting how miserable his experience aboard the ship was, and I wish he had spent more time examining the action and less time complaining.