The Two-Headed Whale: Life, Loss, and the Tangled Legacy of Whaling in the Antarctic
Published by: Greystone Books
Imprint: Greystone Books
Sales Date: 2023-10-24
Published: October 2023
Imprint: Greystone Books
Page Count: 256 Pages
Illustrations: B&W map
Dimensions: 5.50 x 8.60
256 Pages, 5.50 x 8.60 x 1.00 in, B&W map
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Following one woman’s voyage across the Antarctic, this elegant debut confronts the dark history of the whaling industry and the mystery of one young whaler’s death against the backdrop of the vast Southern Oceans.
“Urgent and moving.”—Publishers Weekly STARRED
Tracing the footsteps of Shackleton, Sandy Winterbottom embarked on an epic six-week tall-ship voyage from Uruguay to Antarctica. At the mid-way stop in South Georgia, her pristine image of the Antarctic was shattered when she discovered the tragic legacy of twentieth century industrial-scale whaling. Enraged by what she found, she was quick to blame the men who undertook this wholescale slaughter, but then she stumbled upon the grave of an eighteen-year-old whaler from Edinburgh who she could not allow to bear the brunt of blame. There are two sides to every story.
The Two-Headed Whale vividly brings to life the spectacular scenery and wildlife of Antarctica, set alongside the true-life story of Anthony Ford, the boy in the grave, as he sailed the same seas and toiled in an industry where profits outranked human life. Drawing together threads of nature and travel writing with an unflinching narrative of life onboard a whaling factory ship and the legacy it left behind, The Two-Headed Whale leaves us questioning our troubled relationship with the extraordinary abundance of this planet.
Published in partnership with the David Suzuki Institute.
"[A] majestic look at the barbaric heyday of commercial whaling in the Antarctic Ocean and the lingering consequences for its practitioners and the planet."
—Cory Oldweiler, Boston Globe
“Remarkable... A heart-scalding, excruciatingly detailed account of life on the 20th century industrial whaling ships that roamed the Southern Ocean... Highly recommended.”
—The Vancouver Sun
"Urgent and moving."
—Publishers Weekly STARRED review
"[E]ngrossing....Part memoir, part environmental study, and part history text, The Two-Headed Whale evokes the drama and beauty of life at sea. It also captures the nobility of Earth’s largest mammals and the devastation wrought by the whaling industry.
"Winterbottom captures, like nothing else I’ve read, the ambiguities that Antarctica inveigles into the traveller’s heart and mind. Her superb descriptions of daily life on a whaler have the sharp tang of immediacy."
—John Harrison, author of Forgotten Footprints
"A moving exploration of the historical imagination. Sandy Winterbottom reaches down—into herself, into the past, into the deep sea and finds heart-struck tragedy, the fabulous glory of the natural world, and that siren yearn of simple mystery that keeps us, all, searching. So much has been lost. Here is a journey that wrests a small and precious gift from oblivion."
—D. Graham Burnett, author of Trying Leviathan and The Sounding of the Whale"
The Two-Headed Whale challenges preconceptions of the Antarctic, splicing in themes of colonialism and capitalism and their links to both environmental and human exploitation."
—The Sunday Post
"A triumph of research... A moving and compassionate eulogy for a young man who, without Winterbottom, would have remained anonymous and unremembered."