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Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks…

Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916

by Michael Capuzzo

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Great white sharks were known to 20th century coastal areas, but not near the New York-New Jersey shorelines! The author spends an enormous amount of the book examining the various lives, political happenings, and cultural mores of East Coast 1916 life and less on the actual attacks by the rogue great white shark that came ashore. Readers looking for an experience like Jaws, Spielberg's suspenseful big fish tale, will be disappointed. But there's no doubting Capuzzo thoroughly researched every detail of the shark's movements and the lives/experiences of the victims as well.
  BDartnall | Jan 12, 2014 |
What makes this book particularly interesting is the period detail: the mores, the social habits, life ( at least along the eastern seaboard among the fairly wealthy.) The author follows the shark as it meanders up the coast ( something that annoyed me was attribution of motivation to the shark, but a minor quibble) and the reactions from the local populace (the general feeling was that the attacks were the work of killer whales and that sharks did not attack people.)

Shark attacks began to occur along the Jersey shore and then a child swimming and the man who dove in after him were killed by the same great white shark who had swum up the Matawan Creek (called a creek, but it had to be larger than what I usually think of as a creek) during high tide when partly salty ocean water moved inland. Not understanding anything about sharks, who have no flotation gall and sink when dead unlike most fish, the community was immediately aroused to attack with ever kind of imaginable firearm and multiple sticks of dynamite. To no avail.

John Nichols, an ichthyologist, was fascinated by the reports. Until this time most scientists believed that orcas, killer whales, were the man-eaters and sharks were relatively harmless. They were about to have their minds changed.

( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
One of two seminal books on the 1916 New Jersey shark attacks, both of which are excellent. Previous reviews set forth the appeal of this book, which is well written in a style that seems like historical fiction. The appeal, of course, is that the events are well researched and fact based.

A minor caveat is that the author's premise is the attacks were the result of a sole juvenile white shark, which is subject to considerable debate. I recommend Richard Fernicola's excellent work entitled Twelve Days of Terror for a fuller explanation of the other theories. ( )
  la2bkk | Aug 14, 2013 |
In a word: WOW. This book is steeped in research, is entirely factual, and reads just like a novel. The cast of characters is real as are the horrific events surrounding the book's subject. Keeping you on the edge of your seat, the author does such a good job that it makes you think twice about venturing into the ocean again. ( )
  briandrewz | Jul 9, 2013 |
Close to Shore is a well researched novel about a spate of shark attacks that occurred off the New Jersey shore in 1916. At the time it was believed that sharks did not in fact kill people, which made these attacks even more horrifying to the public. Especially well done are the chapters explaining the biology of the great white shark and what could have caused it to behave in such an abnormal way. If you're a fan of Jaws, this is the real life event that inspired that story and you will not be disappointed. ( )
  queencersei | Jun 16, 2013 |
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"The beach was such a novel experience that most were completely unfamiliar with the health hazards--and risks to life and limb--it posed." -Gideon Bosker and Lena Lencek "The Beach: The History of Paradise on Earth"
"We're not just afraid of predators, we're transfixed by them, prone to weave stories and fables and chatter endlessly about them, because fascination creates preparedness, and preparedness, survival. In a deeply tribal sense, we love our monsters." -E.O. Wilson
To my father, William, who was born in the time of the shark and died while I was writing this story; my wife, Teresa, first ever in my heart, who turned the nightmares of predators into dreams; and finally Cosmo, a beagle, who sat on my lap all during the writing, watching for prey moving in the fields.
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The smell of the sea pulled him east. The Atlantic spread before him like a pool of diamonds, liquefied, tossing gently in gleaming tips and shards of changeable, fading bronze light.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0767904141, Paperback)

Combining rich historical detail and a harrowing, pulse-pounding narrative, Close to Shore brilliantly re-creates the summer of 1916, when a rogue Great White shark attacked swimmers along the New Jersey shore, triggering mass hysteria and launching the most extensive shark hunt in history.

During the summer before the United States entered World War I, when ocean swimming was just becoming popular and luxurious Jersey Shore resorts were thriving as a chic playland for an opulent yet still innocent era's new leisure class, Americans were abruptly introduced to the terror of sharks. In July 1916 a lone Great White left its usual deep-ocean habitat and headed in the direction of the New Jersey shoreline. There, near the towns of Beach Haven and Spring Lake-and, incredibly, a farming community eleven miles inland-the most ferocious and unpredictable of predators began a deadly rampage: the first shark attacks on swimmers in U.S. history.

For Americans celebrating an astoundingly prosperous epoch much like our own, fueled by the wizardry of revolutionary inventions, the arrival of this violent predator symbolized the limits of mankind's power against nature.

Interweaving a vivid portrait of the era and meticulously drawn characters with chilling accounts of the shark's five attacks and the frenzied hunt that ensued, Michael Capuzzo has created a nonfiction historical thriller with the texture of Ragtime and the tension of Jaws. From the unnerving inevitability of the first attack on the esteemed son of a prosperous Philadelphia physician to the spine-tingling moment when a farm boy swimming in Matawan Creek feels the sandpaper-like skin of the passing shark, Close to Shore is an undeniably gripping saga.

Heightening the drama are stories of the resulting panic in the citizenry, press and politicians, and of colorful personalities such as Herman Oelrichs, a flamboyant millionaire who made a bet that a shark was no match for a man (and set out to prove it); Museum of Natural History ichthyologist John Treadwell Nichols, faced with the challenge of stopping a mythic sea creature about which little was known; and, most memorable, the rogue Great White itself moving through a world that couldn't conceive of either its destructive power or its moral right to destroy.

Scrupulously researched and superbly written, Close to Shore brings to life a breathtaking, pivotal moment in American history. Masterfully written and suffused with fascinating period detail and insights into the science and behavior of sharks, Close to Shore recounts a breathtaking, pivotal moment in American history with startling immediacy.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:57 -0400)

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Details the first documented cases in American history of sharks attacking swimmers, which occured along the Atlantic coast of New Jersey in 1916.

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