Review of The Log from the Sea of Cortez
Already highly lauded for his fictional works, John Steinbeck offers no less vigor and adventure for readers in his nonfiction book The Log from the Sea of Cortez. This book intertwines the myths and discoveries of science, psychology, and philosophy in no more than three hundred pages. It closely follows the expedition of a marine biology expedition undertaken by a team of sagacious, motivated men in 1940. The crew travels from Monterey Bay, California, along the coast of Baja California, and back to Monterey Bay after exploring the Sea of Cortez. Throughout the whole excursion, Steinbeck repeatedly expresses his thoughts and predictions regarding the spirituality and equilibrium of the world and its species as a large mechanism working in unison with no single organism left useless.
The expedition recorded in this book begins and ends on slightly different notes. The beginning is full of anticipation and somewhat hasty excitement. The team sets off on their endeavor to encounter and record new and unrevealed specimens of the greatly unexplored world. They sail along the coast of California, stopping quite often in the many cities and villages that are scattered along the way. As the voyage lengthens, they sometimes stumble upon land where no human life appears to be found. On other occasions they encounter native people who welcome them with a generous hospitality and open arms willing to aid their unexpected visitors in any way possible. While Steinbeck’s crew benefits greatly from the kind actions of the people they encounter on their trip, what really motivates and creates the expedition’s success is the deep intelligence and hearts of the men upon the trip. Their cognizance of the cycles and functions of the earth and its living organisms creates a well-rounded perspective of life that creates a puzzle of the book, correctly placing each piece in its rightful place.
The Log from the Sea of Cortez not only entertains the reader with adventure and thrill, but also reveals a whole new view upon the relevance and spiritual connections in this world of unpredictability and imperfections. The knowledge and experience gained by the crew from beginning to end of the expedition does not go unnoticed by the reader. As the last page of the book concludes the story, a sense of fulfillment and placidness will linger upon the thoughts of a suddenly melancholy reader who becomes aware that enticing, phenomenal adventure is now at its end.
--by Tatjana Spaic