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The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger

The Perfect Storm (original 1997; edition 1998)

by Sebastian Junger, Richard M. Davidson (Reader)

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4,055601,254 (3.88)125
Title:The Perfect Storm
Authors:Sebastian Junger
Other authors:Richard M. Davidson (Reader)
Info:Random House Audio (1998), Edition: Unabridged, Audio Cassette
Collections:Your library

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


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English (58)  German (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (61)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
After turning the last page of this book I had to take a deep breath and stretch my tense muscles. Moments ago I was in the cold ocean with a handful of men. I was with a little boy missing his father. I was dreaming about a lover lost at sea. This book takes the reader with it. It's a book you experience rather than read. ( )
  KRaySaulis | Aug 13, 2014 |
no rating
  Carole-Ann | Aug 9, 2014 |
If you already hate sea storms like nothing else, this will make you hate them even more. A must read. ( )
  mortensengarth | Jul 17, 2014 |
In Gloucester there is a sculpture of the Virgin Mary between two tall bell towers of the Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. She has a bundle in her arms that she lovingly gazes at. The bundle is not the infant Jesus; it’s a Gloucester schooner. Fishing the Grand Banks has always been extremely dangerous. Dories rowed out to haul in lines, back-breaking work at best, and disappeared into dense fog never to be seen again; or, occasionally the seafarers might walk up the lane months later having returned from Europe where they had been blown, surviving on dew and whatever fish they could catch. This area routinely spawns devastating storms. Some ten thousand Gloucester fishermen have been killed in the past three hundred years, and commercial fishing has the highest per capita death rate of any profession. Risks today have only been slightly lessened with the use of special survival suits and lifeboats. Most of the fishing is out of the range of rescue helicopters.

Sebastian Junger has recreated the tragedy of the Andrea Gail in The Perfect Storm. He reconstructed as best he could what might have happened. In the process, we learn a great deal about the swordfishing industry. The Andrea Gail was a good ship and swordfishing could be particularly lucrative. On a good trip, the captain might receive a $20,000 share after all expenses had been paid; the lowest seniority crewman, $5,000 for a month’s work. Swordfish are not gentle creatures. They have a four to five foot bony “sword” that is used for slashing and eviscerating schools of fish. They have been known to attack fishermen when hooked and there is a case on record of one mauling a clipper ship. Commercial fishermen avoid the thrill by baiting hooks on miles of lines that are trolled behind the vessel. The baiting process is interesting and extremely dangerous. It’s done on the fly as the line is played out. Large #10 hooks are baited and snapped on to the line. Should the hook catch on the baiter’s clothing as it goes by, he goes over the side with it. If he’s extremely lucky, he can grab a knife that is always kept ready and cut the line before he drowns. The bait is illuminated with Cyclume sticks costing $1.00 each — swordfish feed at night and the light sticks are supposed to illuminate the bait — and during a trip, the ship might use 5000 of them. The trolling line is usually about thirty miles long. Buoys and radio beacons as well as radar reflectors are added every so often to keep the hooks suspended at the feeding depth of seventy feet, so one trolling line might be worth $20,000.

The storm that destroyed the Andrea Gail was of truly awesome proportions, and Junger does a brilliant job of mixing in the scientific understanding of hurricane physics, wave mechanics, and storm development with analysis of human and ship behavior. One huge container ship that traversed a less intense area of the storm lost 37 containers (huge tractortrailer sized shipping units that are securely attached to the decks of large vessels). After it limped into New York, an officer walked off and declared he would never set foot on board a ship again. Meteorologists calculated it was the worst storm in one hundred years. Significant wave heights were measured by instruments at over 97 feet. Peak wave heights would have been more than twice that. That’s as high as a twenty story building. Waves that high have never been measured, but it’s suspected that “they would destroy anything in a position to measure them.” An example of what can happen during such a storm was recounted by another Gloucester fisherman named Chris, whose boat was hit by a tremendous boarding sea in a lesser storm. As Junger recounted, “The stern lifted, the bow dropped, and they started surfing down the face of the wave. When they got to the bottom there was nowhere to go but down, and the crest of the breaking wave drove them like a piling. Chris looked out the porthole, and all he could see was black. If you look out the porthole and see whitewater, you’re still near the surface and relatively safe. If you see greenwater, at least you’re in the body of the wave. If you see blackwater, you’re a submarine. ‘I felt the boat come to a complete stop. . . . We hung there a moment and then the buoyancy caught and it was as if she’d been thrown into reverse. We plowed right back out the way we came.’”

( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
This is a piece of journalism, and a riveting read. The "perfect"storm of 1991 did cause a great deal of damage but Mr. Junger managed to build a very good book out of it. Yes, it is not pure non-fiction, but his imaginings of the last hours of the Andrea Gail were quite realistic in the artistic sense. It was made into a film, and I hope a financial bedrock for Mr. Junger. Mind you I see that the term "Perfect storm of..." seems to have replaced the single word, "combination" in a lot of lazy writing lately. Just sayin".... ( )
  DinadansFriend | Sep 8, 2013 |
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It's no fish ye're buying, it's men's lives.
- Sir Walter Scott, The Antiquary, Chapter 11
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.
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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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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 006101351X, Mass Market Paperback)

Meteorologists called the storm that hit North America's eastern seaboard in October 1991 a "perfect storm" because of the rare combination of factors that created it. For everyone else, it was perfect hell. In The Perfect Storm, author Sebastian Junger conjures for the reader the meteorological conditions that created the "storm of the century" and the impact the storm had on many of the people caught in it. Chief among these are the six crew members of the swordfish boat the Andrea Gail, all of whom were lost 500 miles from home beneath roiling seas and high waves. Working from published material, radio dialogues, eyewitness accounts, and the experiences of people who have survived similar events, Junger attempts to re-create the last moments of the Andrea Gail as well as the perilous high-seas rescues of other victims of the storm.

Like a Greek drama, The Perfect Storm builds slowly and inexorably to its tragic climax. The book weaves the history of the fishing industry and the science of predicting storms into the quotidian lives of those aboard the Andrea Gail and of others who would soon find themselves in the fury of the storm. Junger does a remarkable job of explaining a convergence of meteorological and human events in terms that make them both comprehensible and unforgettable.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:41 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

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. October 1991. It was "the perfect storm"--a tempest that may happen only once in a century--a nor'easter created by so rare a combination of factors that it could not possibly have been worse. Creating waves ten stories high and winds of 120 miles an hour, the storm whipped the sea to inconceivable levels few people on Earth have ever witnessed. Few, except the six-man crew of the Andrea Gail, a commercial fishing boat tragically headed towards its hellish center.… (more)

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W.W. Norton

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

Editions: 039304016X, 0393337014

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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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