In Pursuit of Giants: One Man's Global Search for the Last of the Great Fish (Hardcover)

One Man's Global Search for the Last of the Great Fish

By Matt Rigney

Viking Adult, 9780670023356, 352pp.

Publication Date: June 14, 2012



A veteran recreational fisherman embarks on an eye-opening adventure to track the few remaining big game fish.

In Pursuit of Giants is an account of the high adventure of offshore sportfishing and a clarion call to preserve the last of the world's great fish. The story follows Rigney's global pilgrimage to encounter surviving populations of giant marlin, swordfish, and bluefin tuna hundreds of miles offshore New Zealand and Nova Scotia; in the sportfishing mecca of Cabo San Lucas; off Japan, South Australia, and the Great Barrier Reef; and in the Mediterranean. Rigney goes deep into the spiritual experience of the offshore world and introduces us to swordfish harpooners, sportfish captains, marine biologists, fish- farming pioneers, and Greenpeace activists. Rigney explores the crisis in fisheries management and considers what the loss of healthy, vibrant oceans means to us-to our health, our children's future, and our ability to experience the divine in nature.

In Pursuit of Giants combines the romance of a great sport narrative with the passionate advocacy of the best environmental writing. It recalls the spiritual power of Peter Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard and will win comparisons to Mark Kurlansky's Cod.

About the Author

A New England recreational fisherman for nearly forty years, Matt Rigny is a member of the International Game Fish Association and Oceana, the largest ocean restoration group in the world. He lives in western Massachusetts.

Praise For In Pursuit of Giants: One Man's Global Search for the Last of the Great Fish

In Pursuit of Giants is a very timely and important book, impressively thorough in the extent of its research, including many eloquent interviews at sea with commercial fishermen whose traditional livelihoods, like the splendid animals themselves, are everywhere on the point of disappearance. Like Carl Safina’s Song for the Blue Ocean, it is not only informative but exceptionally well written and a pleasure to read, which should bring it the wide audience it deserves.”

-Peter Matthiessen, author of Men���s Lives

In Pursuit of Giants is an exquisitely detailed love story, the tale of Matt Rigney’s love of the lions and tigers of the sea—the bluefin tuna, swordfish, and marlin that make sports anglers’ pulses race. It’s a love story colored with sadness from the unrelenting assaults on these fish from commercial fishing, tuna ranching, and even sports anglers themselves. But it’s also a story of hope—Rigney documents the efforts of men and women he met in his travels around the world, individuals who are trying to save these ocean giants. In Pursuit of Giants should inspire its readers to both love and defend its magnificent subjects.”

-Ted Danson, actor and author of Oceana

“[A] fascinating quest…. Suffused with passion for these great pelagic creatures. Muscular and lyrical by turns, Mr. Rigney’s prose deftly captures the wildness of the sea—the deep gleam of a shoal turning suddenly in the sunlight, the birdlike head of a striped marlin, spawning tuna “blazing their milky contrails.” Each section reads like a short story…. As this meticulous and engaging book demonstrates, we must change our mind-set lest we lose these giants.”
-David Profumo, The Wall Street Journal

“Matt Rigney deftly navigates that symbolic tightrope between straight, fact-based narrative reporting and passionate advocacy….Rigney has crafted a smart, lyrical, passionate-but-not-too-preachy call to arms. In Pursuit of Giants should appeal to the recreational anglers who dream of catching 12-foot, 1,000-pound black marlin off the Great Barrier Reef and to conservationists and policymakers fretting about the permanent damage that has been wreaked over the half century….Rigney’s respect for many of his characters that make their living at sea and his near-spiritual connection to the big creates below resonates throughout.”
-The Miami Herald

“[An] entertaining and impassioned text with strategic suggestions for sustainable fishing.”


“[Matt] Rigney provides a glorious read in his examination of sportfishing and the imperiled state of ocean life. The vivid immediacy of this call to action ranges from majestic descriptions of a marlin’s oceanic journey and a Japanese fisherman’s outrage at government-industry collusion to fishing fleet’s devastation of marine life….The “awe and humility” felt in the presence of these fish is sensitively and powerfully wrought throughout this dramatic, transcendental tale.”

-Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“A dramatic account that will appeal to the sportsman and conservationist alike.”

-Kirkus Reviews

“A very important book; for any who cares about the sea, who cares about the planet and the future generations who will inherit it, who wonders at the mysterious power of the little remaining wilderness humankind has yet to rape and pillage, Rigney’s book is must-read…. A great fishing book, an adventure that leads the narrative into some of the most remote and hostile places on earth, chasing huge but increasingly endangered game fish that have animated the dreams of sport fisherman for more than a century.”
-The Valley Advocate

“A damned wonderful read….I highly recommend this book.”
-Seattle Post-Intelligencer