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The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men against the Sea (1997)

by Sebastian Junger

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5,257851,479 (3.89)191
The incredible true account of the most extraordinary storm of the 20th century, this is the story of a tempest born from so rare a combination of factors it was deemed "perfect" and of the doomed fishing boat with her crew of six that was helpless in the midst of a force beyond comprehension.
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» See also 191 mentions

English (82)  German (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (85)
Showing 1-5 of 82 (next | show all)
This book is an interesting story about fishermen who spend most of their lives at sea because it is the only way they can make money. The money they make completely depends on how lucky they get at sea. A boat could catch more swordfish in one week than another one catches in a month. Their ability to stay alive also depends on their luck at sea. Some fishermen are only home for a week at a time, and they end up spending much of their earned money on drinks. The book has a disappointing ending, but it is very interesting to learn about the ways of the sea and the life of a fisherman. The book definitely has its boring parts, but the interesting parts outweigh those. ( )
  Charles_Tauckus | Nov 5, 2020 |
The perfect storm engulfed the Andrea Gail, a swordfish boat with its six crew members, in 1991, many miles off the coast of Massachusetts. Nobody knows exactly what happened. However, there were other ships out in the ocean that night, in different locations, and there are accounts of other ships encountering horrific storms from other years. From these accounts, Junger pieced together a reasonable account of what happened on the Andrea Gail.

It is not fiction. All quotations are exact, from actual people. Junger never goes over the line to make up a story, just offers possibilities.

We first get to know the crew, just a little, just enough to care something about the men. Then we follow radio contact, weather reports, wave reports, visual accounts. We get to know the folks back on shore, waiting for these men.

It's a revealing work, showing just how nature's forces can defeat any effort by humans to survive or even to rescue those trying to survive. Others have said it's an accurate account of what it is like out there in these unusual storms. I am prepared to believe that. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
Horrific, harrowing.. Book picks up in the last quarter.. Beyond the main story line of the boat, you get the story of other boats, out of this world rescue efforts, and damage done throughout the coast line. Reading the book in a dark room (my bedroom!) really amplified the intensity. Great narration. I didn't need as much science behind waves and storms, and wanted more of the good stuff - rescue and survival ( )
  bsmashers | Aug 1, 2020 |
The phrase "the perfect storm" has passed into common parlance to signify a rare convergence of factors that make something bad even worse. This is the book that launched that idiom. It's a sad tale of a group of men who sail the Atlantic in search of swordfish and paychecks and their fateful encounter with the ironically-named Hurricane Grace.

For a book that was a #1 bestseller back in the 1990s, it was less accessible to me as a non-sailor, non-fisherman than I had hoped. A lot of nautical jargon is used in the text and there is no glossary to help the landlubber figure it out. The men of the ill-fated Andrea Gail aren't developed as characters as much as I would have liked, either. There are a lot of digressions, and I did more skimming as I read than I prefer. Still, this book is a timely reminder of the dangers of sea and storm, as well as a tribute to those who didn't make it home. ( )
  akblanchard | May 28, 2019 |
3.5 stars

In 1991, a storm hit the Atlantic Ocean off the Eastern coast of the US and Canada. There were fishing boats out there: one of them, the “Andrea Gail”, disappeared and others had people aboard who needed to be rescued. In addition, the book includes information about fishing and the fishing industry, and the history of both. It also includes some information about weather and storms.

It was good, but there was a lot of detail that I just ended up skimming over. The author talked to families and loved ones of the missing fishermen, and to some of the rescuers and survivors, as well as others who had a link to the people caught in the storm. There were a lot of people to keep track of, and I was unsuccessful at much of that, often forgetting who was who unless there was a reminder. There is no way to know what happened aboard the Andrea Gail, so that is kept to speculation about what most fishermen were likely to do in similar circumstances. Some of the fishing techniques upset me (trawling), and I’m sure things have gotten worse since 1991 (and 1997 when the book was published), but that also wasn’t news, sadly. Probably the most interesting parts of the book, for me, were the descriptions of the various rescues. ( )
  LibraryCin | Jan 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 82 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sebastian Jungerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bourdier, JeanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davidson, Richard M.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
It's no fish ye're buying, it's men's lives.
- Sir Walter Scott, The Antiquary, Chapter 11
Dedication
This book is dedicated to my father, who first introduced me to the sea.
First words
One midwinter day off the coast of Massachusetts, the crew of a mackerel schooner spotted a bottle with a note in it.
Quotations
The two vessels pass by each other without a word or a sign, unable to communicate, unable to help each other, navigating their own courses through hell.
Meteorologists see perfection in strange things, and the meshing of three completely independent weather systems to form a hundred-year event is one of them. My God, thought Case, this is the perfect storm. As a result of this horrible alignment, the bulk of the sword fleet – way out by the Flemish Cap – is spared the brunt of the storm, while everyone closer to shore gets pummeled.
People who work on boats have a hard time resisting the idea that certain ones among them are marked, and that they will be reclaimed by the sea. The spitting image of a man who drowned is a good candidate for that; so are all his shipmates. Jonah, of course, was marked, and his shipmates knew it. Murph was marked and told his mother so. Adam Randall was marked but had no idea; as far as he was concerned, he just had a couple of close-calls. After the Andrea Gail went down e told his girlfriend, Chris Hansen, that while he was walking around on board he felt a cold wind on his skin and realized that no one on the crew was coming back. He didn't say anything to them, though, because on the waterfront that isn't done – you don't just tell six men you think they're going to drown. Everyone takes their chance,s and either you drown or you don't.
Anyone who has been through a severe storm at sea has, to one degree or another, almost died, and that fact will continue to alter them long after the winds have stopped blowing and the waves have died down. Like a war or a great fire, the effects of a storm go rippling outward through webs of people for years, even generations. It breaches lives like coastlines and nothing is ever again the same.
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The incredible true account of the most extraordinary storm of the 20th century, this is the story of a tempest born from so rare a combination of factors it was deemed "perfect" and of the doomed fishing boat with her crew of six that was helpless in the midst of a force beyond comprehension.

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Book description
With its nail-biting suspense and nonstop action, The Perfect Storm has the makings of a superb thriller. But this story of a once-in-a-century meterological occurence, the lives it changes, and the lives it claimed is achingly real. Junger's account of the fate of a group of swordfishermen battling a storm off the Newfoundland coast opens a door into the world of commercial fishing, historically among the most dangerous of occupations. Junger reveals how a finite supply of fish forces boats farther out to sea, and in increasingly hazardous conditions. He explains the unique set of circumstances that led to a storm of unpredictable strength and how even the most advanced technology cannot warn of prepare us for the whims of nature. And he shows us the sea in all its power: the gray horizon at dawn; the maelstrom of wind, water, and rain that make up a nor'easter; and the precise structure of a tidal wave the size of an office building as it curves and falls, playing havoc with any ship that dares to cross its path.
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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 039304016X, 0393337014

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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