Tuna: A Love Story

Warm-blooded, topping out at 1,500 pounds, and able to swim faster than 50 miles an hour, tuna captured the imagination of fisherman long before the advent of Charlie Tuna or the sushi bar. To the ancient Phoenicians, who caught them in vast cities of nets, they were as important as the buffalo was to the American Indian; today, American consumers eat more than one billion pounds of canned tuna per year. In Tuna: A Love Story, Richard Ellis describes the ways of these sleek, ceaselessly wandering creatures and the fishermen who catch them by hook or net (or, currently, raise them to market size in pens called "tuna ranches" in the open sea). Ellis exhaustively documents the toll commercial fishing takes on wild populations of tuna -- especially the remarkable bluefin, largest of the several tuna species and focus of the sushi trade. Swimming in all the planet's oceans, bluefin are apex predators whose disappearance would upset open-ocean ecosystems worldwide. Meanwhile, rising mercury levels in tuna flesh -- a measure of increasing ocean pollution -- threaten to render this important protein source inedible. Ellis not only fears for the state of the seas and human health but for the fate of this majestic creature -- and on the savagery that takes place far out to sea beyond the consumer's gaze, he is unsparing: "Seeing a bluefin tuna gaffed with spears," he writes, "is like seeing a thoroughbred racehorse being hacked to death with an ax."

July 23: Jessica Mitford died on this day in 1996.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.


What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.