Published July 16, 2021

Rebecca Giggs, author of Fathoms: The World in the Whale, discusses the role of whales in our global culture and changing environment, in conversation with Nick Pyenson, author of Spying on Whales and curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.

Watch the recording from this event:

About Fathoms:

When Rebecca Giggs encountered a humpback whale stranded on her local beachfront in Australia, she began to wonder how the lives of whales reflect the condition of our oceans. Fathoms blends natural history, philosophy, and science to explore: How do whales experience ecological change? How has whale culture been both understood and changed by human technology? What can observing whales teach us about the complexity, splendor, and fragility of life on earth?

“Masterly.”—The New Yorker

Fathoms immediately earns its place in the pantheon of classics of the new golden age of environmental writing.”—Literary Hub

“Lyrical…Giggs’s writing has an old-fashioned lushness and elaborateness of thought. Its finest passages—and they are many—awaken a sense of wonder.”—The Washington Post

“[A] delving, haunted and poetic debut.”—The New York Times Book Review

Winner of the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction • Finalist for the 2020 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction • Finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

About Spying on Whales:

Nick Pyenson’s research has given us the answers to some of our biggest questions about whales. He takes us deep inside the Smithsonian’s unparalleled fossil collections, to frigid Antarctic waters, and to the arid desert in Chile, where scientists race against time to document the largest fossil whale site ever found. Full of rich storytelling and scientific discovery, Spying on Whales spans the ancient past to an uncertain future—all to better understand the most enigmatic creatures on Earth.

“[Pyenson] draws out one of the most fascinating stories in the history of life.”—The New Yorker

Spying on Whales represents the best of science writing.”—Edward O. Wilson

“This is a fantastic book. Nick Pyenson writes with a rare combination of passion, scientific insight, and knowledge of Deep Time. I couldn’t put it down.”—Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus

Community partner:

We appreciate the support of the 1455 Literary Arts Summer Festival in sharing information about this event.

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