• The Last Whalers

  • Three Years in the Far Pacific with a Courageous Tribe and a Vanishing Way of Life
  • By: Doug Bock Clark
  • Narrated by: Jay Snyder
  • Length: 11 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Asia
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (48 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

In this "immersive, densely reported, and altogether remarkable first book [with] the texture and color of a first-rate novel" (New York Times), journalist Doug Bock Clark tells the epic story of the world's last subsistence whalers and the threats posed to a tribe on the brink.

A New York Times Notable Book​
A New York Times Editors' Choice
Winner of Lowell Thomas Travel Book Award Silver Medal
Finalist for William Saroyan International Writing Prize
Longlisted for Mountbatten Award for Best Book
Telegraph Best Travel Books of the Year
Hampshire Gazette Best Books of 2019

One of the favorite books of Yuval Noah Harari, author of the classic best seller Sapiens, "on the subject of humanity's place in the world" (via Airmail).

On a volcanic island in the Savu Sea so remote that other Indonesians call it "The Land Left Behind" live the Lamalerans: a tribe of 1,500 hunter-gatherers who are the world's last subsistence whalers. They have survived for half a millennium by hunting whales with bamboo harpoons and handmade wooden boats powered by sails of woven palm fronds. But now, under assault from the rapacious forces of the modern era and a global economy, their way of life teeters on the brink of collapse.

Award-winning journalist Doug Bock Clark, one of a handful of Westerners who speak the Lamaleran language, lived with the tribe across three years, and he brings their world and their people to vivid life in this gripping story of a vanishing culture. Jon, an orphaned apprentice whaler, toils to earn his harpoon and provide for his ailing grandparents, while Ika, his indomitable younger sister, is eager to forge a life unconstrained by tradition, and to realize a star-crossed love. Frans, an aging shaman, tries to unite the tribe in order to undo a deadly curse. And Ignatius, a legendary harpooner entering retirement, labors to hand down the Ways of the Ancestors to his son, Ben, who would secretly rather become a DJ in the distant tourist mecca of Bali.

Deeply empathetic and richly reported, The Last Whalers is a riveting, powerful chronicle of the collision between one of the planet's dwindling indigenous peoples and the irresistible enticements and upheavals of a rapidly transforming world.

©2019 Doug Bock Clark (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A gripping story of a community struggling for its very survival, and of the clash between ancient and modern worlds. Clark has a graceful, almost poetic writing style, and his vivid portrait of the Lamalerans and their way of life evokes in the reader a stirring image of a lost world, an ancient society that has somehow stayed virtually untouched by the march of time...until now." (David Pitt, Booklist)

"Doug Bock Clark has delivered us an amazing account of an almost mythological fight - man versus leviathan - and in vivid prose he reveals the most profound truths about both how strong we are and how fragile we are. Part journalism, part anthropology, The Last Whalers is a spectacular and deeply empathetic attempt to understand a vanishing world. I absolutely loved this magnificent book." (Sebastian Junger, number-one New York Times best-selling author of Tribe and The Perfect Storm)

"A fascinating debut.... Accessible and empathetic...Clark creates a thoughtful look at the precariousness of cultural values and the lure of modernization in the developing world." (Publishers Weekly)

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Good book on hunter-gatherer tribe in Indonesia

Would rate it highly, alongside "Don't Sleep, there are Snakes", and "Death in the Rainforest", as a thoughtful account of one of the last hunter-gatherer tribes remaining today. Only niggle is that the narrator completely butchers the few words and paragraphs of Lamaleran/ Indonesian language text pronunciation. It's so bad that it's incomprehensible to a speaker of Bahasa Indonesia; wouldn't have taken much effort to improve on that.

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Super interesting look at an indigenous tribe

In the modern world, it is hard to imagine the way of life of different indigenous people so much different than our own in western civilization. This was an interesting look and forced me to consider the negative impacts of the modern ways of life.

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Great story

It made me rethink my life!!! To hear about the everyday day life of these men and women made me realize how blessed i am as an American nd how easy we have! beautiful writing!