Recent Press

A Corey Ford image of blue marlin underwater. Getty images.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:  “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. Thumbnail character sketches abound, with the odd salty joke thrown in.” —David Profumo, ‘Losing the Big Game’

ZOCALO PUBLIC SQUARE:  “[In Pursuit of Giants is the] literary lovechild of Mark Kurlansky’s Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World and Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea. Rigney’s not your typical environmental writer, and his stories read more like Jon Krakauer than John Muir—which makes his arguments against the international fishing industry all the more convincing.”

PETER MATTHIESSEN, Author of Men’s Lives: 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.”

TED DANSON, actor and author of Oceana:  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.”

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review):   “An avid fisherman, 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 fleets’ devastation of marine life. Arguing that the extinction of much ocean life is highly possible within decades, Rigney’s passionate advocacy of conservationist ethics is imbued with direct experience and eschews simplistic bromides. As he claims that sportfishers can help sustain an economy and act as a pro-conservation force, he notes that partial successes in reversing the depletion of marine life cannot offset the impact of commercial overfishing, indiscriminate slaughter of bycatch, and dishonest reporting of catch and evasion of regulations. Portraits of traditional swordfish harpooners and their empathy for the fish they harvest act as a foil to impersonal large-scale fishing, and grant depth to the profession: “The opportunity to experience ocean wilderness and explore what it means to be human… is why many venture out on the sea in pursuit of giants.” The “awe and humility” felt in the presence of these fish is sensitively and powerfully wrought throughout this dramatic, transcendental tale.”

THE MIAMI HERALD:   “An avid sportfisherman and ocean conservationist, Rigney has crafted a smart, lyrical, passionate-but-not-too-preachy call to arms. In Pursuit of Giants should appeal to 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 last half century.” —Larry Lebovitz, in ‘Angler/Conservationist Examines the Disastrous Disappearance of Big-game Fish’

Photo credit: Guido Montaldo.

SALON.COM:   ” . . . I just think it’s impossible to really have the full experience of being human if you live within a totally controlled, totally contained sort of hermetically sealed, safe environment. I’m not saying to court danger is romantic, but we were bred as animals to survive in a physical world, and the world we live in, like office cubicles, these are not what we’re born to. We can’t really have an experience of all of the other parts of us unless we’re getting out there and living in a much more diverse, exciting, interesting habitat.” —Matt Rigney, interviewed by Sarah Amandolare, in ‘We’re Destroying the Seas”

An 1,100-pound black marlin takes flight. Credit: Matt Rigney.

THE VALLEY ADVOCATE:  “In Pursuit of Giants is, in every sense, a great fishing book, an adventure that leads the narrator 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 fishermen for more than a century. The world Rigney describes is a sensuous one, a world of visual splendor and relentless wind and waves, a world populated by rugged, rough-talking men whose passions for the sea and for great fish vastly outweigh any apparent concern for comfort and safety.” —Tom Vannah, ‘Where are the Fish?’

THE WASHINGTON POST:   “There are a lot of fish in the sea. At least, there used to be. In “In Pursuit of Giants,” Matt Rigney, an ocean restoration activist, uses a series of big-game fishing trips — to Nova Scotia, Malta and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico — to reflect upon the declining bounty of the world’s oceans. As he explains it, over the past century poor oversight and outright greed have allowed the fishing industry to decimate fish populations, particularly the big species, such as swordfish, marlin and tuna, that humans tend to find most delicious. Rigney uses fishing travelogues (he does environmentally sensitive catch-and-release, naturally) to cultivate an appreciation for the ocean’s natural beauty. But he also spends a fair amount of space ticking off the implements of destruction that industrial fleets use to maximize their catch, such as drift nets (walls of netting that extend for miles) and scallop dredges, which rake the muck at the bottom. At the book’s conclusion, he provides policy recommendations and some personal tips — among them, stop eating endangered fish — that can help relieve some of the damage.” —Aaron Leitko

SEATTLE POST INTELLIGENCER:   “The love that Matt Rigney shows for fish, especially of the giant fish and true marvels of the water, in the pages of In Pursuit of Giants reminds me of my father in that sense. You can feel it through the ink of every page.That love, however, is in danger. That is also something you can viscerally feel through the heft and seriousness of the book itself. All the while luring you in with a very tangible affection and sense of wonder for the creatures of the sea – especially those at the very apex of the “fish” family — Rigney drops the second shoe of knowledge that as a species we have drastically and perhaps permanently changed the sea and endangered the very existence of these creatures.All of us think of the sea and the ocean as this permanent thing. Surely the ocean is too big for man to have influence and sway over; surely that is the one thing we can not be called into account over changing, right? Over all that water — or all within it, perhaps — there must be just as many fish now as there ever were. Right?Wrong. Through modern fishing techniques and greed we have done to the watery depths what we have always done when we “want” something, and we know other people will pay for it because they want it to.” —Michael Jones