The Last Whalers by Doug Bock Clark

The Last Whalers

A "magnificent book" (Sebastian Junger) and "monumental achievement" (Mitchell Zuckoff) that tells the epic story of the world's last subsistence whalers and the threats posed to a tribe on the brink "An extraordinary feat of reportage and illumination." --Leslie Jamison, The Empathy Exams. "From the very first lines, I was riveted." --Robert Moor, On Trails. "A true work of art . . . Lyrically written and richly observed." --Michael Finkel, Th...

Details The Last Whalers

TitleThe Last Whalers
Release DateJan 8th, 2019
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
GenreNonfiction, History, Environment, Nature, Audiobook

Reviews The Last Whalers

  • Nancy
    One family, one heart, one action, one goal. Lamaleran sayingLembata, in Southeast Asia, is home to the Lamalerans who arrived there 500 years ago. They settled on the beach under a cliff, surviving by fishing for sperm whale and Manta ray and flying fish. Those who are successful in the hunt share with aging family members and community members. They are one of the few hunter-gatherer societies left in the world. But industrialized society is cr...
  • Wonjun Lee
    The Last Whalers is an absolutely extraordinary work. Clark’s portrayal of the Lamalerans, a hunter-gatherer tribe inhabiting a remote Indonesian island, is both fascinating and moving. He expertly shows how the Lamalerans hunt the largest carnivore in history, the sperm whale, using centuries-old technology. By having lived amongst the tribe across three years, the author is able to describe the hunts in stunning and dramatic detail, with the ...
  • Ben
    Unfortunately, this was just far too much mundane detail than I cared to read. It is all detail, with no plot or distinctive characters. The Outside magazine article is enough for me. Moreover, I don't agree at all with the author's editorial stance on the Lamalerans and the importance of their whaling culture, and his arguments were so unpersuasive as to turn me off. It is an interesting cultural portrait still—occasionally, very interestingâ€...
  • Alex
    Remarkable. Clark paints a vivid and unflinching portrait of life for a community in Indonesia that is - in ways large and small - wrestling with their hunter-gatherer past and an encroaching modern culture. Rather than romanticize the indigenous for its own sake (as many Westerners seem prone to), Clark allows the community to share their own multi-faceted views on their they were, as they are, and as they imagine them to be. A true a...
  • Liana
    This is a rich and wonderfully crafted book. Clark does an excellent job of laying out the intricacies of the tribe's history, blending of local beliefs and Catholicism, personal relationships, and factors pushing individual people and larger change. There is a lot of detail, but he creates a story that allowed me to still keep track of all the players and micro and macro scales described. Certain situations were painted with such amazing detail ...
  • Pat
    This was an extraordinary, and difficult, book to read. The Lamalareans are an indigenuous society, located at the far eastern tip of Indonesia. For centuries, their way of life had not changed, and their religion, culture and society were intertwined with the Way of the Ancestors. The Way provided them with all their physical and spiritual needs. And then the modern world intruded. The author describes their culture and life through some individ...
  • Scott
    For three years journalist Doug Bock Clark lived on a remote Indonesian island with the Lamalerans, a tribe of some 1,500 who, as the world's last subsistence whale hunters, harvest their food (sperm whales when they're lucky but also manta rays, porpoises, and whale sharks) by leaping from their handcrafted oar-powered boats (called tena) and plunging a harpoon into their prey. So they're basically fighting whales in the water. This is dangerous...
  • Jenn Warner
    Well written, fascinating account of life of one of the few remaining indigenous tribes in the world and how modernity is encroaching on their way of life. The hunting scenes were difficult for me to read but I liked this overall
  • Mike
    The author spent time over three years with the isolated Lamalaren tribe of Eastern Indonesia, learning their language and culture (at least as much as he could) to the point where some of them considered him a part of their tribe. Not only does he write about the trials and tribulations of the hunter gatherer tribe (whale hunting with spears and wooden boats--can it get more adventurous?), but he writes of the struggles the tribe has had and wil...
  • Dave
    This is an honest "warts and all" portrait of one of the last surviving hunter-gatherer cultures on the planet. It reads a little more like a novel than most typical anthropology books, which most people will probably like even though I personally don't prefer that writing style. He does a good job describing them without romanticizing. Not all environmentally-minded westerners will love the way these people live. I know I'm definitely not a fan ...
  • Amanda Drucker
    This is a remarkable book. Clark depicts the Lamalerans in an intimate and honest way, as only someone who dedicated time over years, getting to know the people, their culture, and even learning their language, could. The writing style is absolutely beautiful—I found myself re-reading sentences just to absorb and appreciate the delightful way that Clark strings words together. From the vivid depictions of whaling expeditions to illustrations of...
  • Mike Clarken
    A review I had read that led me to this book discussed the beauty of its writing first, the crafting of the story told, and the rare skill of description wielded by its author, and that the narrative, though incredible, and the reporting, though truly timely and exotic, were even outshined by the gifts of Doug Bock Clark. For the most part, I concur; this is a gorgeously told story by a master craftsman, but I would argue that the story itself, a...
  • David
    Clark lives among the Lamalerans, a hunter-gatherer group in Eastern Indonesia. They have merged Catholicism and their own beliefs to interpret a changing world. They are especially identified via their whale hunts and their truly cooperative and democratic way of life. But that lifestyle is under great pressure from the industrialized world.Clark presents a vibrant picture of this world by focusing on several people, men and women, younger and o...
  • Kate Schwarz
    This book was a quality reminder of my days as a Peace Corps Volunteer, when I lived far away in Thailand, immersing myself in another culture. Similarly, Clark lives among the Lamalarans, a small tribe on one small island in Indonesia. He is drawn to their culture's generosity, clearly shown in how they divide up the spoils of whale hunts, which they are allowed to do for subsistence purposes. (He was living on a nearby island when he saw the La...
  • Marsha
    What an amazing book that allows the reader to enter a world in modern times that is rooted far in the past. Clark takes us inside the life of the tribe, families and into the day to day challenges of individual tribe members. They are hunters and they face their large prey in close proximity and often plunging onto an animals back to place a harpoon. And if it were not enough to see these people's lives intimately over a three year period, Clark...
  • Ned Frederick
    I gave it my sincere best shot but I couldn’t get past the Cetacean extermination. I know, I know the Lamerlans live a subsistence lifestyle totally based on harvesting whales, dolphins, etc. They are a brave and resilient people whose impact on the global Sperm whale population is a rounding error. No issue with their lifestyle. Indeed I hope they survive culturally intact. But I just couldn’t take reading about the individual whale killings...
  • Jenn
    I won a copy of this book.These are the kinds of book I really love to win and read. It's such a remarkable story about a tribe of people on the verge of, basically, extinction. The outside world is encroaching on them and they're losing to what it has to offer. The youngsters in the tribe don't want to worship the old ways. Doug Bock Clark spent 3 yeas living with this remote tribe. He pieced their stories together and wrote this amazing book. S...
  • Sylvia Johnson
    A very personal view of our fast-changing world and its incursions into ancient cultures. I enjoyed getting to know these individuals, their world view, their families and ancestors and the beliefs and community that sustains them.
  • Allie
    The author has the rare gift of weaving together years of stories and collective memories into a flowing, eloquent narrative. By the end of the book, I felt that I really knew the characters, flaws, strengths and all. I can’t wait to read future works by Clark!
  • Verne
    Great book.
  • Rob
    When the author steps away from the day-to-day reporting to ponder questions about hunter-gatherers and the encroaching modern world it gets deep—and beautifully written to boot!
  • Tad Deshler
    Fascinating portrayal of a culture so unlike our own.
  • Nick Moran
    Thanks to this book, I have a good recipe for manta ray brains stewed in tamarind and lemon juice. Let me know if you'd like it.
  • Shaun
    The subject probably isn't too bad, but the narration on the audiobook is boring .
  • Steve
    A changing world everywhere, from Indonesia to rural America, with cultures clinging to maintaining their known worlds.
  • Harris
    I really liked how the author never used the first person to insert himself into a scene. Very entertaining accounts of hunts - like reading a modern day Moby Dick.
  • Rebecca
    Quite interesting and it will stick with me as I mull over the issues brought forth.
  • Jk
    I received a free advance reading copy of this book via the Goodreads Giveaways program and would like to thank anyone involved in making that happen!I am completely fascinated by indigenous cultures and this book provides a stunning look inside the Lamaleran tribe of whale hunters in Indonesia. It follows the stories of a few families over a period of several years and focuses on how the Lamalerans as a group are struggling with ever encroaching...
  • John
    Excellent writing and research! Just started a few days ago, but I love the story and history of the whale hunter culture!