Paper pub. date
December 2021
ISBN 9780870711589 (paperback)
ISBN 9780870711596 (ebook)
6 x 9, 252 pages. 30 b&w images. Notes. Index.

A Tidal Odyssey

Ed Ricketts and the Making of Between Pacific Tides

Richard Astro and Donald Kohrs

Between Pacific Tides by Edward F. Ricketts and Jack Calvin is arguably the most important book about marine ecology on the Pacific coast of North America. At a time when almost all studies of life in the intertidal zones were taxonomic, Ricketts and Calvin revolutionized the field and helped to lay the groundwork for studies of the impact of environmental change on the natural world. Though Ricketts is perhaps best known as a quirky character in John Steinbeck’s fiction, he was a serious marine biologist who conducted pioneering research.

In A Tidal Odyssey, literary scholar Richard Astro and archivist Donald Kohrs explore how Between Pacific Tides came to be, covering both the writing process and the long journey to publication. They tell three interwoven stories: the development of ecology as a valuable new approach to the study of marine life in the intertidal zone; a case study of how new and dynamic science is published and reaches a larger audience; and the intellectual development of Ed Ricketts.

Not only a scientist but also an expert in music, philosophy, history, and literature, Ricketts and his work impacted a broad range of writers and scholars. A number of these intellectual figures appear in A Tidal Odyssey, including Ricketts’s co-author, Jack Calvin, and illustrator, Ritch Lovejoy; mythologist Joseph Campbell; novelist Henry Miller; composer John Cage; and of course John Steinbeck. The authors have drawn extensively from Ricketts’s archive, including previously unpublished letters, memoranda, notebooks, and photographs.

A Tidal Odyssey is for anyone interested in the world of Ed Ricketts as well as marine biology, intertidal ecology, and how ecological studies underpin our understanding of the impact of environmental change on the well-being of our planet.


About the author

Richard Astro began college at Oregon State University and has been in universities ever since as a graduate student, faculty member, and academic administrator. He is provost emeritus and distinguished professor of English at Drexel University.

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Donald Kohrs is the branch library specialist at the Harold A. Miller Library of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove. His current research areas include the history of Pacific Grove’s Chautauqua Program, Stanford University’s Hopkins Seaside Laboratory, the Hopkins Marine Station, Edward F. Ricketts, Jack Calvin, and the Steinbeck and Hamilton families.

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"The most thorough review ever written about Edward Ricketts’s life leading up to the time he published Between Pacific Tides. It will immediately find its place in the lore and literature of that legendary, pioneering marine biologist."
Richard C. Brusca, Executive Director Emeritus, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

"A Tidal Odyssey presents for the first time the extraordinary history of Ed Ricketts’ and Jack Calvin’s Between Pacific Tides, one of the world’s most enduring popular – and scientific – books on tidepool life and intertidal ecology."

James T. Carlton, Professor Emeritus of Marine Sciences, Williams College

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