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.
Whimsical curiosity begets a quixotic odyssey and troubling revelations about plastics polluting the seas in former high school teacher and journalist Hohn's charming account of what he learned searching for 28,800 rubber bath toys lost at sea in 1992. His curiosity, prompted by a student's quirky essay, begins in 2005 around Sitka, Alaska, where yellow "duckies," frogs, turtles, and beavers washed up after three-story waves buffeted a container ship traveling from China to America. Hohn, a senior editor at Harper's magazine, eventually tracks more rogue ducks bobbing up from isolated Gore Point, Alaska, to Maine beaches. The author's quest leads him to a research vessel trawling for degraded plastic in Hawaiian seas, to the Chinese factory where the toys were manufactured, aboard a container vessel traversing the same route as the original ship (a particularly hair-raising section), and finally to the high Arctic to study the science of oceanic drift. Packed with seafaring lore and astute reporting, this enthralling narrative is the Moby Dick of drifting ducks.
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Boring boring boring
More about the author than its purported topic