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The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men…

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

by Sebastian Junger

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (79)  German (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (82)
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
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 |
This book threw me for a loop, and I'll be up front and say I'm making it low for personal preference. I didn't know much about the book going into it, and was expecting an event-specific account. The book bills itself as being about what happened to the Andrea Gail, but very little is known about what actually happened, so it's a lot of guesswork. Junger delves into the men's lives, goes into technical detail about meteorology and the physics of drowning and...ghosts. It's a weird jumble. Oh, and it's in the present tense, which feels disorienting considering that so much of what happened to the Andrea Gail is unknown.

I can see how this book could really work for people- there's some fascinating stuff here- but for me, between the author's writing style and the jigsaw puzzle of topics covered, it was just okay. ( )
  cavernism | Jan 11, 2019 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (Apr 2009):
- This was an entertaining, fairly slim imagining of the loss of the Andrea Gail crew. As I have since read riveting, highly accomplished accounts of months-long high seas adventures, such as In The Heart of The Sea, this..story notably pales. I can't help feeling that this fishing boat accident, though certainly harrowing to the crew, only deserved perhaps a magazine article..
- Not bad, but I'd as soon..see it unfold on the screen. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Jun 22, 2018 |
"Going to sea is like going to prison, with a chance of drowning besides." Samuel Johnson

This is an excellent narrative nonfiction account of the six-man crew of the Andrea Gail and their encounter with a massive storm. The Andrea Gail set out from Gloucester Massachusetts in October to fish for swordfish on the Grand Banks. Not only is swordfishing one of the most dangerous occupations, but the Grand Banks are on one of the worst storm tracks in the world. Since 1650, the town of Gloucester has lost more than 10,000 men at sea.

There is a lot of information in this book about what it is like to be a commercial fisherman, how hurricanes and other storms develop, how waves form, and what it is like to drown, just to mention a few of the topics covered. But most of all it is about Bobby, Billy, Murph, Sully, Bugsy, Albert, and the Andrea Gail.


3 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Jun 19, 2018 |
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Davidson, Richard M.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:18 -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

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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