In 1940, with Hitler running amok in Europe and the US gearing up for war, John Steinbeck and marine biologist Ed Ricketts chartered a six-week expedition into the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) to make a study of the marine life in the region. The Log is the brilliant narrative of their voyage, from detailed accounts of preparations, collections, methods and observations to the sometimes bawdry, sometimes comic observations of their hired crew.

Market applications jump out of every page as they detail survival strategies used for various conditions. They marvel at the complexity of life while observing its brutal simplicity. Always, the individual is considered in relation to the whole.

Written between the Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, Steinbeck is at his best in observing not just the marine life, but the people of the region and the effect of their group upon the people. You get an unfiltered run through his (and Ricketts’s) mind at the time.

This is the type of book that once you finish it, you go right back to the beginning to reread and relive favorite parts. Already, I miss my time aboard the Western Flyer.


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