In paperback, by John Steinbeck, Edward F. Ricketts
The collaboration of two friends—one a novelist, one a marine biologist—produced a volume in which fascinating popular science is woven into a narrative of man’s dreams, his ideals, and his accomplishments through the centuries. Sea of Cortez is one of those rare books that are all things to all readers. Actually the record of a brief collecting expedition in the lonely Gulf of California, it will be science to the scientist, philosophy to the philosopher, and to the average man an adventure in living and thinking.
The teeming and wildly competitive world of the sand flats is seen in terms of history, politics, ethics, and sociology; a starfish is important, not only because it is a new variety, but because it is essential to the delicate balance of the whole region in which it is found. Steinbeck and Ricketts are the opposite of “pure” scientists: it is not only their work that fascinates them, but the complicated and enormously exciting implications of that work.
Sea of Cortez is a book to be read and remembered on two levels. It is a journey through a remote and beautiful corner of the world, a diary filled with the daily excitements and triumphs of skillful and energetic men. It is also an invitation to see the world anew from a fresh vantage point and perhaps with a broader and more understanding spirit.