Two men face off against an all-powerful navy – and the fate of the ocean's most majestic creatures hangs in the balance.
"A gripping, brilliantly told tale of the secret and deadly struggle between American national security and the kings of the oceans." – Bob Woodward
War of the Whales is the gripping tale of a crusading attorney who stumbles on one of the US Navy's best-kept secrets: a submarine detection system that floods entire ocean basins with high-intensity sound – and drives whales onto beaches. As Joel Reynolds launches a legal fight to expose and challenge the Navy program, marine biologist Ken Balcomb witnesses a mysterious mass stranding of whales near his research station in the Bahamas. Investigating this calamity, Balcomb is forced to choose between his conscience and an oath of secrecy he swore to the Navy in his youth.
When Balcomb and Reynolds team up to expose the truth behind an epidemic of mass strandings, the stage is set for an epic battle that pits admirals against activists, rogue submarines against weaponized dolphins, and national security against the need to safeguard the ocean environment. Waged in secret military labs and the nation's highest court, War of the Whales is a real-life thriller that combines the best of legal drama, natural history, and military intrigue.
Joshua Horwitz is the cofounder and publisher of Living Planet Books in Washington, DC, which specializes in books by thought leaders in science, medicine, and psychology.
"A gripping, brilliantly told tale of the secret and deadly struggle between American national security and the kings of the oceans. At once thrilling and heartbreaking, this is a landmark book of deep, original reporting which could alter forever how we view our role as stewards of the seas."
– Bob Woodward, author of The Price of Politics
"A stunning true story that delivers us into beautiful and mysterious depths – of great oceans, top-secret military operations, and the hearts of underdogs who risk it all to save the most extraordinary creatures in the world. In War of the Whales, Joshua Horwitz has written a tale of passion and courage with all the intrigue of the best mystery novels."
– Robert Kurson, author of Shadow Divers
"A page-turning plunge into deep seas and deep secrets. A finely braided, tautly constructed narrative full of science, suspense and unexpected reversals. This is an awe-inspiring book, and an enraging one. You won't be able to put it down."
– Geraldine Brooks, author of People of the Book
"Seneca said it best: 'He who is brave is free.' War of the Whales tells the astounding true story of how brave men and women, free from fear, spoke truth to the most powerful military on earth to save the most majestic creatures in the oceans."
– Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Founder and President of the Waterkeeper Alliance
"War of the Whales takes us deep inside the soundscape of our acoustically complex seas, where whales have evolved to communicate, navigate and hunt with sound. It's the true story of the underwater collision between life in the ocean and an acoustic storm of military sonar – and of citizen activists holding accountable the world's most powerful Navy. For anyone who wants to save marine life from drowning in man-made noise, this is a must-read book."
– Jean-Michel Cousteau, Ocean Futures Society
"War of the Whales is the surprising and untold story of how two individuals united in a desperate fight to protect dolphins and whales from the deadly acoustic assault of navy sonar. Deeply researched, and brimming with colorful and interesting detail, Joshua Horwitz's gripping book reads like a thriller but, in the tradition of the best non-fiction writing, brings to light the secret history of military sonar and its devastating connection to traumatized whales and dolphins stranding and dying on beaches around the world."
– Tim Zimmerman, Co-Writer of Blackfish, author of The Killer In The Pool
"From severed whale heads to top-secret Naval warfare ops, from the blue waters of the Bahamas to the inner corridors of the Pentagon, War of the Whales is a true-life detective story, military drama and legal procedural of the first order. Joshua Horwitz channels John Grisham and Jacques Cousteau in a way that will leave the reader inspired, outraged and deeply satisfied."
– David Helvarg, Founding Director of Blue Frontier Campaign
"In this gripping detective tale, science writer Horwitz recreates a day-by-day account of the quest to find the reasons for the mass strandings; the Navy's resistance and cover-up of their use of sonar in the area; and the drawn out struggles between Balcomb, Joel Reynolds, of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Navy [...] Riveting."
– Publishers Weekly
"Horwitz delivers a powerful, engrossing narrative that raises serious questions about the unchecked use of secrecy by the military to advance its institutional power."
– Kirkus, starred review