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Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea & of the Beachcombers, Oceanograp hers, Environmentalists & Fools Including the Author Who Went in Search of Them Paperback – February 28, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
That story turns out to have been false, part of the growing myth surrounding the Friendly Floatees. Much like the white whale, a figment of the collective imagination.
This book tells the story, as best can be reconstructed, of these toys. They weren't made of rubber, and the ducks only accounted for 1/4 of the toys (lost in the creating of the myths were the turtles, frogs, and beavers).
The story is incredible. In an attempt to find the full lifecycle of these toys Hohn goes up and down the Alaskan coast looking for the toys cast upon the rugged north Pacific beaches. He goes to sea, many times, including joining scientific expeditions looking at the plastic content of the Pacific, meso scale currents in the North Atlantic, and crossing the North West Passage (now possible due to a rise of 5 degrees C at the poles) all exploring the possible tracks these toys could have taken. He even goes to China to find the birth place of these toys, and crosses the Pacific on a container ship not unlike the one the Floatees fell off of.
His style is very much like that of Bill Bryson, though his mind drifts and wanders in a really interesting way that gives you a sense of the drifting and wandering of these toys at sea. It's an incredible lens to look at our Oceans, a largely unexplored part of our earth, the impact we are having on them, as well as the dangers that still lie out to sea.
With Moby-Duck, we enter the world of nonfiction. Here, a reader's expectations (at least my expectations) are different. If the author is writing about the Abominable Snowman, for example, he or she had better stay focused on and provide a lot of information on and insight into the topic. Or, he or she should make it clear up front that the book is not really about the Abominable Snowman at all: it's just a collection of thoughts. Some abominable, some not.
The subtitle of Moby-Duck, printed large on the front cover, is: "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."
Well, that is simply not what the book delivers. First of all, none of the beachcombers, oceanographers, or environmentalists mentioned in this book went in search of the bath toys. No. They were all doing something else, and the author bummed along on the trip so that he could search for the bath toys. Second of all, this is NOT the story of the bath toys lost at sea. That's what it promises to be, but it isn't. Instead, it is 400-plus pages of the thoughts and observations of the author, Donovan Hohn.Read more ›
I was a little surprised to see that there are high school teachers who are assigning this book. While it was an enjoyable read overall, it does seem like something to dip into a little bit, skimming here and there and getting more involved in other sections. Somehow, the thought of having to somehow read and report on this as a specific assignment would make the book more difficult to take too.
For those of us who enjoy reading a broad span of nonfiction, this is a good but not outstanding choice. Maybe make it a beach book, with the plan to skim through areas of less interest than others.
[Update: I still haven't finished this book, having elevated it all the way to bathroom book, to prolong it longer: 20 minutes per day is a lovely dose. I'm realizing the author is more sly than he presents himself, but at this point I'm willing to forgive him anything.
But sly? At one point, a team he's with want to use ATVs to move several tons of collected plastic garbage across a wild, beautiful Alaskan isthmus so that it can be safely removed by boat. They're forbidden because archeologists complain that the ATVs might damage spruce trees that were "culturally-modified" by the ancient Unegkurmiut people. The team members rant on about how Spotted-Owl-ridiculous this all is, and make jokes about doing some "cultural modification" of trees using their chainsaws.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I got bored reading this and about halfway through the book I skipped to the end. I gave the book away.Published 1 month ago by chris
This was a fascinating story, and one that I had never heard about. I only wish he had added pictures.Published 3 months ago by Barbara W.
Book is a bit slow at times
The author should have been home with his wife when it was time and this book is a point apology.
This was a terrific read. I loved Hohn's sidebars on things like how it felt to be a father - tracking tides - arctic visit initiations - the strange brotherhood of beachcombers -... Read morePublished 4 months ago by LucieFD
Got bored with the story before finishing. Had a good startPublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Moby-Duck is the story of an English teacher who was compelled to travel the globe to follow the course of a cargo container full of Floatee toys that went overboard. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Rasheed