Synopses & Reviews
In January 2010, the Gemini
was moored in the Swinomish Slough on a Native American reservation near Anacortes, Washington. Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the rusted and dilapidated boat was in fact the most famous fishing vessel ever to have sailed: the original Western Flyer
, immortalized in John Steinbeckandrsquo;s nonfiction classic The Log from the Sea of Cortez
In this book, Kevin M. Bailey resurrects this forgotten witness to the changing tides of Pacific fisheries. He draws on the Steinbeck archives, interviews with family members of crew, and more than three decades of working in Pacific Northwest fisheries to trace the depletion of marine life through the voyages of a single ship. After Steinbeck and his friend Ed Rickettsandmdash;a pioneer in the study of the West Coastandrsquo;s diverse sea life and the inspiration behind andldquo;Docandrdquo; in Cannery Rowandmdash;chartered the boat for their now-famous 1940 expedition, the Western Flyer returned to its life as a sardine seiner in California. But when the sardine fishery in Monterey collapsed, the boat moved on: fishing for Pacific ocean perch off Washington, king crab in the Bering Sea off Alaska, and finally wild Pacific salmonandmdash;all industries that would also face collapse.
As the Western Flyer herself faces an uncertain futureandmdash;a businessman has bought her, intending to bring the boat to Salinas, California, and turn it into a restaurant feature just blocks from Steinbeckandrsquo;s graveandmdash;debates about the status of the California sardine, and of West Coast fisheries generally, have resurfaced. A compelling and timely tale of a boat and the people it carried, of fisheries exploited, and of fortunes won and lost, The Western Flyer is environmental history at its best: a journey through time and across the sea, charting the ebb and flow of the cobalt waters of the Pacific coast.
andldquo;From shrimp in the Sea of Cortez to sardines and Pacific ocean perch on the West Coast, from salmon to king crab, the story of these fisheries is consistent with the spread of fisheriesandmdash;and overfishingandmdash;in general, from coastal waters near major population centers to areas that are increasingly farther offshore, deeper, and more remote. Along with the effects this approach has had on marine life, The Western Flyer also illuminates the impact it has had on coastal communities. Kevin M. Bailey uses this boat to help people see how we have serially depleted one population of marine life after another, and how we have repeated the rationale justifying it all across time and place without learning from past experiences.andrdquo;
andldquo;There are many ways to write about this lovely book.and#160;Piecing together the history of the Western Flyerandmdash;the boat made famous by John Steinbeckandrsquo;s voyage to the Sea of Cortezandmdash;Kevin M. Bailey delivers a fascinating, complex, and compelling portrait.and#160; Bailey weaves together illuminating stories of how Steinbeckandrsquo;s time on this sturdy, seaworthy vessel is reflected in his writing with tales of fishermen who skippered the boat, the seas they fished, and the fish they caught and ultimately didnandrsquo;t catch, assembling a powerful and evocative history that might otherwise be forgotten, but which must not be lost if we are ever to return our once-plentiful ocean to abundance.andrdquo;
andldquo;Deserve[s] a space on your eReader or on your nightstand. . . . Any devoted Steinbeck fan should be familiar with The Western Flyer, the ship at the heart of The Log from the Sea of Cortez, one of Steinbeckandrsquo;s nonfiction works. In this book, Kevin M. Bailey ties the narrative of the legendary boat with the spread of Pacific fisheries and, ultimately, their downfall thanks to absentminded overfishing.andrdquo;
andquot;Bailey rekindles the vibrant story of the Western Flyer, the fishing vessel that carried John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts across the Sea of Cortez. The vessel, once earmarked to become part of a restaurant, is now scheduled to be used for marine education.andquot;
andquot;Interspersed with quotations from Steinbeck, as Philip Hoareandrsquo;s The Whale references Herman Melvilleandrsquo;s Moby-Dick, this well-written book will appeal to readers concerned with fishery conservation and the importance of fishing to the local economy. . . . Of interest both to Steinbeck fans and readers of Paul Greenbergandrsquo;s Four Fish.andquot;
andldquo;[Noted in] Think Green: A Sampling of 2015 Titles.andrdquo;
andquot;A rich blend of philosophy, ecology, history, and first-rate literature lies behind the unassuming title. . . . Bailey uses the odyssey of the Western Flyer to illustrate the exuberance that accompanies the exploitation of a newly discovered fisheries resource, the all too common depletion that ensues, and the ongoing struggle to exploit natural resources in a sustainable way. . . . The final pages of this book are lyrical prose at its finest, and almost seem to channel Steinbeck.andquot;
andldquo;Well-researched and written with deep passion and knowledge for the boat and the fish harvested from it, Baileyandrsquo;s short book is a fine tribute to the Western Flyer, as well as a poignant warning about humanityandrsquo;s impact on the globe.andrdquo;
andldquo;Baileyandrsquo;s clear and concise account of her complicity in the serial destruction of crucial fisheries in the Pacific Northwest after her role in the romantic, literary, philosophical, and ecological immersion of Sea of Cortez cannot help but drive a conscientious reader toward Baileyandrsquo;s goal: to understand, as Ricketts and Steinbeck did, that the oceans and their fisheries must survive or we do not. Thus the Western Flyer story, so full of irony, will have a happy ending after all. A player in the mindless, greedy, irresponsible damage of untold natural fishery resources, so near death from neglect that some said it couldnandrsquo;t be done, The Western Flyer rises again, this time as an icon of ocean-life preservation: a seagoing classroom for students of ecology and the marine sciences. Kevin Baileyandrsquo;s little book has the tight, complete, joyful feeling of John Steinbeckandrsquo;s Cannery Row. Yet itandrsquo;s so packed with helpful information and remarkable detail that my copy was well marked up, underlined, and highlighted when I finished. Yours will be, too.andrdquo;
andldquo;A superbly researched and illustrated book.andrdquo;
andldquo;A worthwhile addition to the environmental canon, and while it builds off of The Sea of Cortez, it stands alone as its own work.andnbsp;. . . Through Baileyandrsquo;s summary of Steinbeck and Rickettsandrsquo; explorations we find humans capable of understanding the natural world on which we all depend.andnbsp;His history of the boatandrsquo;s trajectory through collapsing fisheries, however, shows humans as stubbornly unwilling to learn many simple yet crucial lessons.andnbsp;Itandrsquo;s a sad but necessary book.andrdquo;
andldquo;Bailey works hard to uncover the Western Flyerandrsquo;s life apart from its celebrity status.andnbsp;Salmon, crab, and tuna flipped, skittered, flopped, and then stilled on its deck; its succession of captains wielded it with bravado or sold it out of despair. Bailey shows that the life of the Western Flyer mirrored that of the fishing industry, promising endless riches, yet, in reality, often facing a near-fatal decline.andrdquo;
Today, nearly forty years after his death, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck remains one of Americas greatest writers and cultural figures. Over the next year, his many works published as black-spine Penguin Classics for the first time and will feature eye-catching, newly commissioned art.
Penguin Classics is proud to present these seminal works to a new generation of readersand to the many who revisit them again and again.
This exciting day-by-day account of Steinbeck's trip to the Gulf of California with biologist Ed Ricketts, drawn from the longer Sea of Cortez, is a wonderful combination of science, philosophy, and high-spirited adventure.
In the two years after the 1939 publication of Steinbecks masterful The Grapes of Wrath
, Steinbeck and his novel increasingly became the center of intense controversy and censorship. In search of a respite from the national stage, Steinbeck and his close friend, biologist Ed Ricketts, embarked on a month long marine specimen-collecting expedition in the Gulf of California, which resulted in their collaboration on the Sea of Cortez
. In 1951, after Ricketts death, Steinbeck reissued his narrative portion of the work in memory of his friend and the inspiration for Cannery Row
s Doc”. This exciting day-by-day account of their journey together is a rare blend of science, philosophy, and high-spirited adventure. This edition features an introduction by Richard Astro.
Includes bibliographical references (p. xxv-xxvi) and index.
About the Author
(19021968) was born in Salinas, California. He worked as a laborer and a journalist, and in 1935, when he published Tortilla Flat
, he achieved popular success and financial security. Steinbeck wrote more than twenty-five novels and won the Nobel Prize in 1962.
Robert DeMott is the Edwin and Ruth Kennedy Distinguished Professor at Ohio University and the author of Steinbecks Typewriter, an award-winning book of critical essays.
Gary Scharnhorst is professor of English at the University of New Mexico. He is the editor of books by Bret Harte and John De Forest for Penguin Classics.