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Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath…
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Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the… (2011)

by Donovan Hohn

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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Very interesting in parts, although my overall reaction is disappointed. I found the book to be rambling more than was necessary. As if the writer was taking us on the same vague, non-linear journey that he was on. I respect that he sought after this mystery - of a load of floating toys lost overboard in the Pacific in 1992 - without much training or even planning. Without a goal or a conception of what he was looking for. I understand that. However, once he got to the end - or whenever he decided to stop - I was expecting a summation of what (at least) *he* thought it to mean. I didn't really even get that. We do get his opinion on various things as the transpire in the book. Some very environmentally scary things, some humorous stories, and long pages of drifting along - like the floating toys he is seeking. Overall - I did enjoy most of it. With some significant trimming and some kind of summation, it would have been wonderful. ( )
  stuart10er | Nov 5, 2013 |
This is a fascinating, well written book which combines true story, travel, science, a bit of biography and lots of literary references. The author was once a school teacher and I think this comes across, certainly in the fact that he is obviously well educated and also because of the literary references used throughout the book - I took this to be partly a nod to his previous career. The link to Moby Dick throughout is very clever, but I liked the references to Winnie the Pooh just as much!

There is so much I liked about this book, I was quite sad to get to the end, although sometimes the science content was a bit tough going. What a fascinating journey the author has taken to uncover more of the story of the rubber ducks! I was horrified by the sheer scale of rubbish collected on the very rural beaches of Alaska and the descriptions of the garbage patch at sea are frankly shocking, as is the thought of degraded plastic particles potentially becoming part of our food chain. It is a book that will stay with me for a long time I think. My only regret is buying the kindle version rather than the physical book. I haven't seen the book, but I imagine the reading would be enriched with photographs - there are some on the writers website. ( )
  Elainedav | Oct 24, 2013 |
Imagine this scenario; a massive container ship laden to the gunwales enters a storm in the north Pacific in transit from China to the US when it loses a number of containers, spilling into the sea its precious cargo, never to be seen again…

…or will it?

And who will be the salvage experts in search for such lost treasure? Maybe cut throats, knives clenched between their teeth, brimming with determination to seek it out and lay claim to it…

Nope. Not even close…

A container ship did in fact take on the full fury of such a storm, in the place mentioned, and containers did spill forth into the ocean, and they did in fact open up and released their precious cargo; not anything your imagination allowed you to think though.

Rubber ducks.

Yellow rubber ducks, ala Ernie from Sesame St fame…in excess of 28,000 of them.

And if we pull back a little, Mr Hohn is no pirate or gold-digging explorer, but a teacher who caught wind of the story some years later and decided to pack in his job, have a baby and search for the real story about the little lumps of plastic which had been washing up on distant shores, even 10 years later.

And it’s all true.

This is a great sea ditty (albeit not in the traditional sense) as Hohn doesn’t leave any stone unturned as he hunts his own Moby Dick, a book paid reference to many a time throughout. Cleaning beaches in Alaska, riding a container ship from Asia, even taking part of a scientific research expedition in the Arctic…Hohn is obsessed with an iconic symbol of our childhood, and while he could go buy one for a couple of bucks instore, he is hellbent on finding one amongst the jetsam and flotsam of beaches barely seen by human eyes.

Now I can’t tell you the outcome, that would ruin it, but enjoy the man’s travels, through hardship and otherwise as he explains the Great Garbage Patch of the Pacific, a natural phenomenon of ocean currents that accumulates all of our junk in a floating cesspit (shame on you all!), to the vaguries of our incessant desire to consume shit that is quite frankly, bloody bad for us.

And while the book has some classic passages of light relief and is up tempo, there is a dark, underlying theme that we only get one shot at this place, and we’re screwing it up royally…

Top read, a must for tree-huggers and heathens alike. ( )
  scuzzy | Jul 2, 2013 |
Moby-Duck is too long for my taste at almost 400 pages, but Hohn, a former teacher, clearly explains what we know about ocean currents and even how we know it. In addition, his descriptions of such things as swimming in deep water off Hawaii and traveling on the Alaska ferry from Bellingham to Sitka are fun to read and evocative. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
Great book with lots of interesting facts about our oceans, how they were before we started messing with them, and what their future looks like. Warning, though, it's a dense read. The author has clearly done his homework and had a very lenient editor. No conversation, it appears, is left without lengthy quoting. All for the good, though, as the topic is interesting. ( )
  catturtle | Dec 10, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
In a book that works as a lively travelogue as well as a voyage of discovery and a philosophical inquiry of sorts (How did toy animals evolve into children’s playthings? And why are beloved, clichéd toy ducklings yellow when most species are not?) Mr. Hohn begins by taking a series of public ferries from Washington to Alaska, commenting as he goes about the ups and downs of that journey.
added by lorax | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Feb 20, 2011)
 

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Epigraph
Facing west from California's shores,

Inquiring, tireless, seeking what is yet unfound,

I, a child, very old, over waves, towards the house of maternity,

the lands of migrations, look afar...

-Walt Whitman
There are more consequences to a shipwreck than the underwriters notice.

-Henry D. Thoreau
Dedication
For Beth, and for my father, and for my sons.
First words
At the outset, I felt no need to acquaint myself with the six degrees of freedom. (Prologue)
We know where the spill occurred: (Chapter 1)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670022195, Hardcover)

Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year

A revelatory tale of science, adventure, and modern myth.

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 world 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. With each new discovery, Hohn learns of another loose thread, and with each successive chase, he comes closer to understanding where his castaway quarry comes from and where it goes. In the grand tradition of Tony Horwitz and David Quammen, Moby-Duck is a compulsively readable narrative of whimsy and curiosity.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:51 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When the author 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. His accidental odyssey pulls him into the secretive world of shipping conglomerates, the daring work of Arctic researchers, the lunatic risks of maverick sailors, and the shadowy world of Chinese toy factories. This work 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. With each new discovery, he learns of another loose thread, and with each successive chase, he comes closer to understanding where his castaway quarry comes from and where it goes.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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