Cover image for Beyond the outer shores : the untold odyssey of Ed Ricketts, the pioneering ecologist who inspired John Steinbeck and Joseph Campbell
Beyond the outer shores : the untold odyssey of Ed Ricketts, the pioneering ecologist who inspired John Steinbeck and Joseph Campbell
Tamm, Eric Enno.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Four Walls Eight Windows, [2004]

Physical Description:
xvi, 365 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL31.R539 T36 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This is a thoughtful and revealing portrait of symbiotic friendship, a suspenseful tale of adventure at sea, and a eulogy to a trailblazing "popular scientist" whose full story has never before been told. In the 1930s, while the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression sent most of America into the doldrums, a lively intellectual and artistic community formed in the West, revolving around three legendary friends: Ed Ricketts, John Steinbeck, and Joseph Campbell. Steinbeck immortalized Monterey's bohemian spirit in Cannery Row, but the area's true lifeblood was his best friend and mentor, Ed Ricketts. Today he's usually remembered as "Doc" -- the beer-drinking philosopher-scientist who presides over Monterey's population of "whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches" in Cannery Row -- but Ricketts was actually a highly accomplished ecologist who did seminal work in the emerging field of marine biology. His two books, Between Pacific Tides and Sea of Cortez (coauthored with Steinbeck), are still considered classics.

Author Notes

Eric Enno Tamm was raised in the fishing village of Ucluelet on the outer shores of British Columbia. He has worked as the executive director of the Coastal Community Network in B.C. and as a freelance journalist in Europe. His writing has appeared in Wallpaper*, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Globe and Mail, and Canadian Geographic, among others. He works for Ecotrust Canada

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

John Steinbeck's Cannery Row features a boozy, affable, generous, and eccentrically philosophical marine biologist called Doc, a character based on Steinbeck's close friend, Ricketts. This indelible fictionalization has stood unchallenged by a biographer until now, and it is a boon to meet the man behind the myth. Ricketts was not only the rowdy king of Cannery Row but was also an original and adventurous marine biologist who, without an academic affiliation, formulated a revolutionary view of life's interconnectedness. Poor and under duress, he nonetheless devoted his life to studying the teeming life of the Pacific coast from Baja to British Columbia, developing a radical biocentric worldview, voicing prescient concerns about marine pollution and exploitation, and working on the now classic Between Pacific Tides. Ricketts never could have conducted his expeditions without Steinbeck's financial support, but as Tamm so perceptively discloses, Doc paid his friend back tenfold by providing Steinbeck with the deep ecological vision at the heart of his Nobel Prize-winning books. Amazingly enough, Ricketts also inspired the enormously influential work of another friend, the mythologist Joseph Campbell. Tamm, therefore, presents an affecting and mind-expanding group portrait of three creative thinkers, but Ricketts glows the brightest, a friend to bums and geniuses. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

It's quite likely that even the most enthusiastic readers of Cannery Row don't know much about Ed Ricketts, the self-taught marine biologist depicted in John Steinbeck's novel as "Doc"-a beer-guzzling bohemian science-philosopher presiding genially over the coastal California town's seedy sardine-packing population of "whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches." Tamm's account of Ricketts's short life (he died in 1948, at age 51, killed while crossing train tracks) is an engrossing memoir. Freelance writer Tamm smartly weaves in-depth literary analysis of Steinbeck's fiction into his narrative, though writing relatively little about mythologist Joseph Campbell's spiritual explorations. But the links drawn among the three friends (though Steinbeck and Campbell soon had a lifelong falling out around marital infidelity) provide a fascinating insight into how art, science and philosophy can nurture, inspire and feed off one another. Tamm writes with impassioned honesty about his subject's many dimensions. Ricketts was a beach bum, philanderer and party-hearty hedonist, but he was also an intuitive ecologist, whose early warnings about sardine over-fishing along the California and Alaskan coasts in the 1930s proved prescient; an environmental visionary, whose dire observations about the impact of industrial effluvia on shoreline habitats in the 1940s went unheeded; and a true renaissance man, whose avant-garde fusion of life and science inspired the lives he touched. Agent, Amy Rennert. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Readers may recognize Ed Ricketts as the author of Between Pacific Tides, the classic study of California coastal ecology, or as John Steinbeck's partner in The Log from the Sea of Cortez. Most likely, he first became known as the model for the character of Doc in Steinbeck's Cannery Row. However, as Tamm, a freelance writer who works for a conservation group based in Vancouver, B.C., tells us, he was much more-a multidimensional, pioneering coastal ecologist who warned of sardine over-fishing along the coasts of California and Alaska (he never graduated from college) and an intimate friend of both Steinbeck and mythologist Joseph Campbell. Ricketts's way of viewing the world very likely inspired much of Steinbeck's symbolism, and he actually wrote much of Sea of Cortez even though Steinbeck got the credit. Interest in Ricketts-who was hit by a train and died in 1948 at age 51-has been increasing in tandem with interest in the oceans and ecology. Renaissance Man of Cannery Row: The Life and Letters of Edward F. Ricketts, edited by Katharine A. Rodger, provides a solid look at Ricketts's life, but Tamm's well-written book examines Ricketts's mind and philosophy and also digs into his relationships with Steinbeck and Campbell. Highly recommended for all public and academic environmental and literature collections.-Margaret Rioux, MBL/WHOI Lib., Woods Hole, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Note on Specimen Drawingsp. ix
Prologuep. xi
Chapter 1 Of Myths and Menp. 1
Chapter 2 The Trilogyp. 25
Chapter 3 Terra Incognitap. 55
Chapter 4 Clayoquot, Stubbs Islandp. 71
Chapter 5 The Great Tide Poolp. 83
Chapter 6 Breaking Throughp. 103
Chapter 7 Stories to Tellp. 123
Chapter 8 The Labp. 139
Chapter 9 The Jesus Walkp. 157
Chapter 10 A Hero's Journeyp. 177
Chapter 11 Galapagos of the Northp. 199
Chapter 12 Farewell Partyp. 223
Chapter 13 In Totop. 235
Chapter 14 Death or Departurep. 261
Chapter 15 Laying the Ghostp. 277
Epiloguep. 307
Notesp. 317
Selected Bibliographyp. 345
Acknowledgmentsp. 351
Indexp. 357