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Alicia B. A Single Pebble
A Single Pebble
By Alicia Borash
"At length we erupted from the gorge. The limestone formations fell away, and we moved all at once into a region of plutonic rocks. In a valley, nearly a mile, wide huge boulders of gneiss and granite, larger by far than our junk, lay strewn about, and straight across the line of the river, relenting only enough to grant it a shallow channel, curious dykes of greenstone and porphyry rose up out of the other stone. It was a primeval landscape, and it seemed to have been arranged by some force of fury. I was deeply moved and humbled by the sight of the trackers scrambling like tiny, purposeful crickets over the rough and intractable banks. We were all hopeless insects in this setting. My career, engineering, seemed only nonsense here. Nothing-absolutely nothing-could be done by man's puny will for this harsh valley littered with gigantic rocks." -John Hersey,
A Single Pebble
A Single Pebble
is a story about an American Engineer that is sent to China to look at the Yangtze River to see if it is a possible dam site. The story starts out with this somewhat conceited man as he gets on a Chinese Junk for his voyage along the Yangtze. He thinks of himself as superior to the people on the boat and to the river, he was book smart. He counts the hours of his journey on his gold watch and observes that the owner of the junk and his wife, the cook, the head tracker and the rest of the trackers don't really care about all the time that they are wasting. He comes to respect the love these people have of life and of the Great River, the Yangtze.
The talents and knowledge the river people possess show on the junk. Su-ling, the owner's wife, recites poetry and stories she has been taught by her ancestors. She teaches him of Chinese traditions, games and even songs. He listens as the head tracker, Old Pebble, sings beautiful melodies that give the trackers their confidence. Finally, he finds himself looked down upon by some of the river people as foreign because he is not in touch with the land and the river. It is also because they don't understand his values, just as he lacks to understand theirs. Still, he doesn't understand why they are so against the thought of people building the dam.
Near the end of the book, Old Pebble loses his life to the Great River and the young engineer is forced to ask himself if he could have played a part in Old Pebble's death. Was it an accident? Or, did he see his way of life about to change with the new technology of the dam? Did he give himself to the river?
The engineer ends his journey and writes his recommendations for the dam. In the book, his ideas were completely ignored.
"Four months later I wrote an optimistic, even fervent, report on the possibilities of a dam in Yellow Cat Gorge, where, after further study, during a trip downriver by steamer, the site seemed to me the best of all. It is clear that nothing ever came of that report, or of me. Indeed, my great career began and ended with that sheaf of papers. It was dismissed and I was tagged by sound men as impractical. The tag is still on me. The dam is still to be built. It will be, one day-of that I am sure."
During 1994, John's words became reality. The Three Gorges Dam was being built in Sandouping, China. This resulted in the travel along the Yangtze will no doubt be improved and the city of Chongqing will become the largest port city in the world.
I would most definatly recommend this book to anyone interested in a journey. I thought it was awesome how it was a true story and it was a good book that always kept you wondering what would come next. It was very interesting to learn a little about the Chinese culture and how many people may judge you on what you wear or where you're from. Sometimes you have to prove yourself before being accepted. If you're looking for an adventurous journey, for sure read
A Single Pebble.
Why an Outstanding book?
This book was the amazing story of a young, inexperienced engineer who thought he could learn most everything out of books. Little did he know, wisdom comes from actions. I believe this book was on the Outstanding Books List because it was a true story and it was really a great inspirational book. It shows that even if you're ignored at first, do something to make yourself stand out and you can accomplish anything.
The genre of
A Single Pebble
is historical nonfiction
John Hersey (6-17-1914 - 3-24-1993)
John Richard Hersey was born on June 17, 1914 in Tientsin, China as a son of missionaries. He returned to the United States at the age of ten with his parents, Roscoe and Grace. He went to Hotchkiss Highschool. He attended Yale and went on to Graduate Study at Cambridge. He was married twice, his first wife of eighteen years was Frances Ann Cannon. They had four children. His second wife was Barbara Day Addams, and they had five children. During World War II, he was a journalist and wrote about the fighting in Europe and Asia. His articles appeared in Time, Life, and the New Yorker.
During the winter of 1946, the managing editor of the New Yorker, William Shawn, discussed a story idea that would illistrate the effects of the atomic bomb that was dropped in Hiroshima. John began working the story in May 1946. He spent three weeks in Japan doing interviews and research then returned to the United States. The story was published in late August of 1946. John Hersey was one of the first western journalists to arrive in Hiroshima after the atom bomb explosion on August 6, 1945. Throughout his lifetime, he wrote many novels such as, the Child Buyer, a Single Pebble, the War Lover, and Under the Eye of the Storm.
John Died on March 24, 1993 in his Key West home. To this day, they are still uncertain of his death.
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