Eloquence of the Sardine: Extraordinary Encounters Beneath the Sea

St. Martin’s. Aug. 2021. 192p. ISBN 9781250272430. $26.99. NAT HIST
As a child exploring in the water, François discovered a lone sardine. Its impossible survival captured his imagination and interest and propelled him into a lifelong love of oceanic creatures. Physicist François’s debut shares his knowledge of the ocean, from the perspective of his hydrodynamics research, and tries to instill the same passion in readers. Each chapter or essay opens with three teasers hinting at its contents (e.g., “In which the most authentic Parisians are those who live under the Seine and have as many scales as clichés”). It then goes on to fulfill each promise through anecdotes, history, and research. Readers who appreciate nature stories will like this short, punchy book, although some transitions in the storytelling are bumpy, and readers will need some background knowledge in order to understand a few of the references. This pop science book is inflected with memoir, with François narrating his travels around the world and describing his friends in various subcultures (like the aforementioned subterranean Parisians), but there is little development of figures beyond the author. The book is really about François’s connection with marine life.
VERDICT For people who love the aquatic world and those who aspire to.
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