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Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks…
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Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916

by Michael Capuzzo

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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Excellently written, this page turner was well worth the time spent reading. I was particularly drawn to it because the New Jersey shore is approximately a two hour drive from where I live, and it contains many good memories of riding the waves, tasting the salt water for the first time, the sounds and smells of the boardwalk, and wonderful family vacations.

During the summer of 1916, when vacationing at the "shore" became a new experience, a rouge shark thrown out of the gulf stream into the Atlantic ocean shore, caused five attacks and deaths. Little was known about the great white shark at the time. And those who were "experts" disbelieved that a shark would be capable of chomping off the legs and body parts of human prey.

Even the ichthyologist John Treadwell from the New York Museum of Natural History was challenged to confront what he thought was true compared to what actually occurred. The first attack in July of 1916 occurred at Beach Heaven, NJ. The target was a seasoned swimmer, and son of a wealthy Philadelphia physician. From there, the shark hugged the coast northward as a farrm boy in the Matawan Creek who, with his pals frequently took a dip to cool themselves became another target.

Not only does the author vividly portray the attacks, but it is obvious that he has done his homework and researched the behavior of the great white! This fascinating true life story occurred at a time when jazz was new, Philadelphia high society carved a niche as New Jersey shore became their playground, while the poor who road the trains to the water for relief from the high temperatures were deemed unfit for the company of the wealthy. Swimming in the ocean was a novelty, and none thought that death could be a part of their experience. ( )
  Whisper1 | Jul 30, 2016 |
A series of attacks off the Jersey shore caused death, fear and a greater understanding of the Great White shark. Until this series of attacks, scientists had mostly dismissed stories of deadly shark attacks as myths, believing that sharks were incapable of seriously harming humans.
The reader can't help but compare the information about sharks we have now to one hundred years ago. That even the director of The Museum of Natural History in 1916 could claim that a shark's jaws weren't strong enough to bite through a human leg seems ludicrous, but he was going on the very little information available to someone even in his position. The sudden popularity in sea bathing, the new opportunities for the average person to travel to the shore by way of train, trolley or motorcar, and the fact that the resort cities were dumping human waste and fish guts into the ocean made it a draw for predators.

I would have liked to rate this book higher based on the actual shark accounts, and general shark information. But the author spends too much time on irrelevant information and florid passages. He quotes Walt Whitman and Fitzgerald repeatedly. He re-creates the life of a man named Dr. Eugene Vansant in minute detail over the course of several chapters, telling the reader about each member of Vansant's family, their dining habits, his parenting style... only to find out that it's the man's grownson who was attacked by the shark. The second half of the book moves much faster.
This should have been more shark, less padding, but still good information about the habits of Great Whites. ( )
  mstrust | Jul 12, 2016 |
"Close to Shore" tells me the tale of the 1916 Jersey Shore shark attacks. Capuzzo transports the reader into 1916 by giving a perspective of America at the time. The shark attacks, from the point of view of the people in 1916, were mysterious and unnerving, they were not even sure if some sharks were dangerous to man (dismissing stories of such things as ignorant or superstitious). The narrative builds up slowly to the first attack and is described with loving attention and detail, and achieves great effect by the time the first attack is described.

Capuzzo mainly concentrates on the idea that there was only one shark, a great white shark. He ignores the possibility that there could have been more than one shark, possibly a bull shark and not a great white. This detracts from the work a little as it's supposed to be a historical book.
That said, the book is an good, page-turning read and I couldn't put it down. ( )
1 vote Arkrayder | Jun 5, 2016 |
Having grown up on the Jersey Shore and being a history nerd I was surprised I had never heard of these event before. That was why when I got the chance to read [Michael Capuzzo's] [Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916] I was so excited. I really enjoyed the description of places I knew from growing up but described in their heyday as opposed to the dilapidated ruins I remember seeing.

[Capuzzo] describes a Jersey Shore of elegance and enjoyment. When it was a status symbol to escape the cities. 1916 was a time of great turmoil with health crisis and a potential war in Europe so people flocked to the shore to escape all this but another danger lurked just off shore.

I know others who have read this book and wish they had introduced me to it sooner because it was an enjoyable, interesting and enlightening read of history and nature. ( )
  MsHooker | Oct 18, 2015 |
"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 playground 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, fuelled 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 non fiction 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 colourful 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 behaviour of sharks, Close to Shore recounts a breathtaking, pivotal moment in American history with startling immediacy.

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

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ ( )
  jan.fleming | Feb 9, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
"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
Dedication
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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:11 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

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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