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Touching This Leviathan

Peter Wayne Moe

5.5 × 8.5. 152 pages.

ISBN 978-0-87071-307-1. Paperback, $19.95.


Available April 2021
Touching This Leviathan asks how we might come to know the unknowable—in this case, whales, animals so large yet so elusive, revealing just a sliver of back, a glimpse of a fluke, or a split-second breach before diving away.

It’s a pressing question, given how frequently whales are in the news: Japan just withdrew from the International Whaling Commission; the Makah Tribe seeks to resume hunts; in 2019 more than 200 gray whales washed up along the West Coast; in 2018, an orca attracted international attention when she pushed her dead calf through the water 17 days before letting go; and, amid all this, every few years we discover new species of whales.

Beyond the parade of headlines, writing about whales—history, science, and literary work—often sits within disciplinary silos. Touching This Leviathan starts a conversation among them. Drawing on biology, theology, local history, literary criticism, environmental studies, and writing studies, author Peter Wayne Moe offers a deep dive into the alluring and impalpable mysteries of Earth’s largest mammal.

Entertaining, thought-provoking, and swimming with intelligence and wit, Touching This Leviathan is creative nonfiction that gestures toward science and literary criticism as it invites readers into the belly of the whale.
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