Moby-Duck

Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of ThemMoby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was delightful. But I like science, and I like quirky. The author is a journalist and a teacher, so he is good with words. Like Moby-Dick, this book is a little of everything – travelogue, scientific investigation, history, sociology, ecology, sea adventure, humor, and the story of an obsession, told in a peripatetic stream of consciousness. That, of course, makes it overall a bit unfocused, with no particular point or conclusion. It is all about the search and where it takes him. I liked his references to Moby-Dick, and I was struck by his insights in the epilogue regarding Melville and fatherhood as it develops in Moby-Dick, as Melville became a father halfway through writing his book. In trying to keep this light hearted, I think Hohn loses something of the seriousness of the growing problem of plastic and what it is doing to our environment. He does very little to address conservation and recycling. Yet his reportage of clean-up efforts makes it clear that this is a monster waiting to devour us.

Description: When the writer Donovan Hohn heard of the mysterious loss of thousands of bath toys at sea, he figured he would interview a few oceanographers, talk to a few beachcombers, and read up on Arctic science and geography. But questions can be like ocean currents: wade in too far, and they carry you away. Hohn’s accidental odyssey pulls him into the secretive arena of shipping conglomerates, the daring work of Arctic researchers, the lunatic risks of maverick sailors, and the shadowy world of Chinese toy factories. Moby-Duck is a journey into the heart of the sea and an adventure through science, myth, the global economy, and some of the worst weather imaginable.

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