The Walking Whales: From Land to Water in Eight Million Years

by Hans Thewissen, 2014  Rating: EXCELLENT

by Hans Thewissen, 2014


This book is so worthy of praise that it's hard to know where to begin. The writing is beautiful, easy except where one must pay attention to understand the science if -- like me -- you are new to certain concepts. The narrative makes sense, and gives you an understanding not only of the fossils and their context *then* but also of the fossil-hunters and the context *now* (which is to say, in the present world and not some 48 million years ago). The author explains beautifully (there's that word again) everything that you need to know, in chapters well thought-out, often in the first person, which keeps things fresh and you-are-there. The writing is sometimes lyrical but never pretentious or apart from the need-to-know information. The illustrations are copious and invaluable. They are well explained.* Every sentence is important. Every page is an education. This is an important but also a wonderfully engaging book. The author is clearly a man of great gifts. One of my favourite natural history books ever.

* Please note: I bought this in both the hardcover and the Kindle edition. The Kindle tends to cut off the right side of diagrams and illustrations, which can be thwarting. Also, the diagrams are very small and it's difficult to make out the text in that case. The print book does not share any of these defects.