In 2009, Philip Hoare won the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction for Leviathan or, The Whale. This extraordinary book is in parts a memoir, a history, a meditation on Moby Dick, a biology lesson, a plea for protection, a travelogue and a chronicle of one man's obsession - which includes a deep sea swim in the Azores. Like Melville's account, Hoare's is both a whaler's dictionary and unlike any book that came before it. Hoare's signature style is a powerful, entrancing approach that leads his reader on journeys that occasionally veer off into glorious excursions which both reflect back upon and add real colour and texture to his chosen subject. In addition to whales, Hoare has written biographies of Noel Coward and the aesthete, Stephen Tennant; a history of the military hospital at Spike Island; and an extraordinary history of Victorian utopian sects. Hoare's Leviathan has also been filmed as a documentary for the BBC. Join him in conversation with Kim Hill. (dakvid)
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