Telling Our Way to the Sea

TellingOurWayTelling Our Way to the Sea: A Voyage of Discovery in the Sea of Cortez
Aaron Hirsh
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
August 2013,  416 pages
Amazon Hardcover $19.35
Amazon Kindle $14.99

Aaron Hirsch and his wife Veronica are both scientists and college professors in the field of the natural sciences. They take a group of students to the Sea of Cortez each summer for teaching and scientific observation. This book narrates one summer’s expedition.

Hirsh paints the picture of a motley crew. He talks about a blind fellow, who gets about nimbly and effortlessly. An Australian guy learns quickly that brash behavior is not safe in this environment. The obligatory prima donna has to keep proving that what anyone has done she has done one better. Some of the best parts of the book describe the interactions and dynamic among Aaron, Veronica, the students, and Graham, the other professor on the trip.

Hirsh frequently veers off into digressions on a variety of themes. He describes the invasion of Baja California by Cortez and his letters back to Spain, which seem to reflect more of what Cortez thought the king wanted to see than the actual reality. He makes forays into biological taxonomy, sea turtles, the migration of whales, and efforts to develop the coastline for tourism.

Hirsh does pay passing tribute to John Steinbeck’s Log from the Sea of Cortez. His story is not Steinbeck’s, so passing tribute is all I would want or expect, but I was happy to see him acknowledge that classic, which is also a lot of fun to read.

If you enjoy popular natural science, travelogues, or the nature of human interaction, I think you’ll like Telling Our Way to the Sea.

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