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Publisher's Summary

In the late 1990s, John Pollack was working as a Washington speechwriter when, frustrated by the cynicism and hypocrisy on Capitol Hill, he quit his job to pursue a boyhood dream: to build a boat made entirely of wine corks and take it on an epic journey.

Cork Boat tells the story of Pollack's improbable quest. Overcoming one obstacle after another, he convinces skeptical bartenders to save their corks, corrals a brilliant but disorganized partner, and eventually cajoles more than one hundred volunteers who help build the boat until their fingers bleed. Ultimately, Pollack completes his vessel of 165,321 corks and sets sail on a fantastic voyage down the Douro River in Portugal, where the Cork Boat becomes a national sensation.

In recounting these adventures, Pollack skillfully meanders through fascinating arcana, from the cork wars to the history of rubber bands (some 15,000 of which help hold his boat together). He also offers an insider's look at the White House, where he was a presidential speechwriter and enlisted navy stewards to save corks for the boat.

Written with unusual grace and disarming humor, Cork Boat is a buoyant tale of whimsy, adventure, and the power of imagination.

©2004 John Pollack (P)2004 Books on Tape, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"[John] Pollack offers an amusing tale, with entertaining anecdotes constantly bobbing to the surface." (Publishers Weekly)
"Pollack's absurd quest seems not merely charming but heroic." (The New Yorker)

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jackie
  • 07-06-2004


I found this selection interesting, but a little slow, and repetative at times. I'm a fan of true stories, and this is a great one, but I expected somthing different. Overall, I enjoyed it, and would choose it again.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • holly packer
  • 18-12-2006


The story had some merit. Wheter the work was tedious or it was just the unenthusiastic reader who made this longer than it should have been is not clear. Mr. Pollack had a great prmise but became boggged down with details about his life that were of no concern to me and in fact a bit pompous. Listener beware.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Eileen
  • 13-06-2008

Excellent, Exciting & Entertaining

This was my favorite book of the year. The story of a boy with a dream, and the man who followed it. BRAVO! I absolutely loved learning about life in DC, and what it takes for someone to still honor the innner "me". The people who participated in the Cork Boat were lucky to have such a unique project to pull them together during such difficult times. I will be waiting for the sequel, bottle caps to the moon!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Chris
  • 14-07-2007

The Long Journey

What I liked about this book is the sense of adventure and whimsy. Pollack proves that you can convert any experience into a life changing and worthwile event with dedication and perseverance. I liked how he mixed in life and career into the quest to make his boat. Only negative- the reader could not have sounded more like a blowhard. Look up pompous in the dictionary and his voice comes out. Combined with the presidential speachwriter prose it was over the top snooty!

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