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Book Reviews

8 Men and a Duck

Nick Thorpe

The Free Press



Sounds like the title of a children’s book, but it is not. “8 Men and a Duck” is the true story of an amazing journey made by eight men in a reed boat from northern Chile to Easter Island.




It’s a modern day Kon-Tiki adventure of a 3-month, 2,500-mile voyage in a boat built with pre-Incan technology.

The book is funny and at times hair-raising as the crew encounter all manner of hazards at sea. Was this a highly trained crew ready to tackle any problem with skilled team work? Not by a long shot.

These eight men are adventurers who, through sheer ingenuity and good luck, complete an extraordinary trip. Oh, and then there’s the duck. I recommend this as a great read and its available at the Nevada County Library.

-Louise Garrison

Nevada City

Survival at Boiler Point, Lake Tahoe

Vesta Avis Mandeville

Western Book/Journal Press

This is the story of a family of seven who moved in 1914, to Boiler Point, at Lake Tahoe, a beautiful forested area which had no plumbing, electricity, radio, neighbors or roads. Its author, who lives in Grass Valley, has written her first book at the age of 88.

Survival is combined with history, geography and a lot of common sense as Vesta Avis Mandeville tells the story of her family’s courageous venture and their warm and happy family life. Her father, a captain in the Department of Fish and Game, bought the land for $650, payable in gold coin at $10 per month.

The lumber for the house was shipped to Truckee on the Southern Pacific Railroad, transferred to the narrow gauge railroad and brought from Tahoe City to Boiler Point on a barge towed by the steam tugboat, The Emerald.

Syd Mandeville was a good carpenter, but he worked from dawn to dusk for the Fish and Game, so he hired a friend to build the family home. However, he made time to built breakwater piers for his harbor, furniture, boats and everything the house needed from cupboards to a root cellar.

Mary Alice, Vesta’s mother, is the heroine of the book. With five children to care for, she cheerfully embraced cooking and housekeeping and made do with basic equipment.

She and Syd loved their children and their happiness runs through the pages of this amazing journal. It includes Fish and Game Logs of the period. There is also much Indian lore, and the history of such Tahoe favorites as the Brockway Hotel. The illustrations are priceless.

The book is available at the Nevada County Library at SPD in Nevada City, or from Vesta’s son, Dale Burt, P.O. Box 1461, Crystal Bay, Nevada 89402.

– Joan Agar

Nevada City


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