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 Them

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 Them

by Donovan Hohn

Hardcover

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Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780670022199
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 03/03/2011
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 9.12(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.34(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Donovan Hohn is a journalist whose work has appeared in Harper's Magazine, The New York Times Magazine and Outside. He is currently the features editor at GQ. Moby-Duck was nominated as the runner-up for for the 2011 PEN/ E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. Hohn lives in New York City.

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Moby-Duck 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
rexandabe More than 1 year ago
I expected to read an interesting book on how ocean currents work and quite a bit about beach combing. Instead I got page after page of lament regarding plastic pollution in the ocean and the beaches. While this may be an important topic, it was not the one I bought the book to read about in so much repetative detail. Its not even a particularly insightful look at the problems plastics are causing in our oceans - just repetitive.
freelancer_frank on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is about the sea and I learned a lot about the sea from it. Hohn uses 'Moby Dick' as his model and his book has some of the benefits and many of the drawbacks of Melville's. Both works attempt a kind of maximalist approach, ranging broadly across a variety of subjects and disquisitions. The approach allows for a lot of illumination on diverse topics but it also tends to feel somewhat haphazard and brisk. Without the benefit of Melville's fictional viewpoint, Hohn has little time to stop and he is guided by a very slim plan - so his book lacks those elements that might otherwise draw the reader in - sympathy, character, plot, etc... As a didactic injection of modern marine lore, however, it is just about worth the price of the ticket. An illustrated edition could improve things somewhat.
PLReader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting, though tiring, review of almost everything which relates to those bath toys. There are a lot of anecdotes, a lot of factoids, a lot of maritime history and a continuous parade of environmental concerns.There are also some interesting comments regarding Moby Dick, the role of toys in society etc. etc.To me, at least, the whole book was a bit overwhelming and, toward the end, a real struggle to finish!
sylliu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Moby Duck is hard to describe: part travelogue, part scientific and environmental reporting, part meditation on modern consumerism, and part journal of self-discovery and adventurism. In 1992, a container ship accident dumped over 28,000 rubber toys into the Pacific Ocean, and for years after, they washed up around the Pacific Basin and some even claimed they had floated over the Arctic into the Atlantic.This saga captures the imagination of writer Donovan Hohn, who embarks on a multiyear and transglobal investigation of the origin and fate of the ducks. He travels to one of the most secluded beaches of Alaska and joins a colorful crew of beach coming and cleaning ecowarriors. He visits plastic toy factories in the heart of industrial China. He retraces the ill-fated voyage of the trans-Pacific container ship by riding a similar contain ship. He joins a blind marine biologist's Arctic explorations on an ice-cutter. All the while, he provides fascinating information about how tides work (who knew there are underwater storms called mesoscale eddies); how boats move (in six degrees of freedom: roll, pitch, yaw, heave, sway, and surge); the fate of plastics in the oceans (they never go away, just break up into ever smaller pieces); and ruminations on what it means to be a modern consumer of disposable things. He pieces together the puzzle of the ducks and concludes they never made it to the Atlantic Ocean, but like his own experiences, the fun in reading the book is in the moments of discovery, serendipity, and insights.
Big_Bang_Gorilla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In which a high school teacher is so spellbound by a student's paper describing a massive spill of thousands of bath toys that he quits his job to undertake a search for the toys. The book centers around a series of oceanographic expeditions that he hitches a ride on, with side trips to explore the factory in China where the toys were made and finagling an introduction into the curious hobby of beachcombing. The author is a very good writer who is witty and thoughtful at all the right times; however, this book ultimately succumbs to mediocrity because it is too long and, even more, because the author follows the broad and easy path which wrecks almost all nautical books: he slings seafarer jargon around with very little attempt to define or explain what the deuce he's trying to say in English. Between the yachtsman jargon and an agglomeration of chemistry terms which would send an undegraduate chemistry major to the dictionary, he erected vocabulary barriers that I really didn't feel like climbing. Even worse, after all this erudition, he then does find the time to stop and define lots of fairly common terms such as "anemometer". Huh?
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NOT ME SEE??
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Is gone
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