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Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush Hardcover – May 20, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

An aircraft carrier has frequently been described as a floating city. That is certainly the impression given by this unique, interesting, and surprising account of Dyer’s stay on the carrier George H. W. Bush as it cruised around the eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. But this is not an ordinary city. It is a city where an outsider immediately becomes aware that it is primed for high-tech warfare. As Dyer indicates, the officers, as expected, are highly trained; but even men who used to be referred to as swab jockeys are technologically proficient in specialized areas. Their onboard leisure activities are limited, which is understandable since 14-hour workdays are common. Most of the crew handle the pressures of constant drilling necessary to maintain military readiness, but Dyer notes some cases of burnout and attempted suicide. The physical environment of the ship ranges from claustrophobic mazes of narrow passages on the lower decks to the immense open surface of the flight deck. Fascinating. --Jay Freeman


Charles McGrath, New York Times
“[Dyer’s] account of his stay on the ship is mostly blissful, filled with curiosity and with admiration for the crew and the dangerous, difficult work it does: repairing airplanes, flinging them up into the sky and then snagging them when they come back down again.”

Los Angeles Review of Books
“Remarkable….the book is very, very funny, from beginning to end. It is also incredibly moving, in the way only fresh and generous writing can be…. By the end of the book Dyer can state unabashedly that he’s had one of the greatest encounters of his life on this boat, and I’m right there with him.”
"Dyer soars for the rest of the book, which shares sea legs with David Foster Wallce's brilliant cruice-ship essay A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again."

San Francisco Chronicle
“Terrific reading . . . . And so with this generous, illuminating and very funny book, Geoff Dyer, one of the most inquisitive writers in the English language, has proven his writing chops on land and at sea. What’s left? We need to send him to space.” 

New York Times Book Review
“This is what I love about Geoff Dyer’s work: His feet are never on the ground.”

New York Observer
“Very much the flipside of Wallace’s most famous essay, ‘A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again’ . . . . Another Great Day at Sea is like the more expensive sequel with a punchier moral . . . . Where a lesser writer—or, it must be said, even Wallace—would keep an icy distance, Mr. Dyer becomes one of the crew members”

Chicago Tribune
“Hilarious and oddball and nearly perfect, and you’ll learn more than you ever thought you wanted to know about aircraft carriers . . . . I love this book.”

Los Angeles Times
“Dyer is to essays what Anthony Bourdain is to food.”

Boston Globe
“Dyer’s antic, anxious, inventive mind is often fun to follow”
Portland Oregoniain

“A revelation to lovers of literature, who’ll learn about the military from a master stylist, and to those who love ships and planes, who’ll have the pleasure of a new perspective from a great writer.”

Virginian Pilot
“Dyer seems to be channeling . . . John Steinbeck . . . . The writing is loose and thin yet studded with conversational gems”

New York Magazine 
“Dyer, at his best, is outstanding. He is one of our greatest living critics, not of the arts but of life itself, and one of our most original writers. . . .The essential fact about Dyer’s nonfiction is that it works beautifully when it shouldn’t work at all. . . .What’s going on in these sentences is the fundamental business of nonfiction: the translation, at once exact and surprising, of world to word. . . .Dyer’s books don’t just have gorgeous throwaway moments. They are gorgeous throwaway moments, a series of extraordinary asides in the long sentence that is life.”

Time Out New York’s “Pick Your Perfect Summer Read”
“If you’re bobbing on the briny sea, you’ll relate to the author’s two weeks in the Persian Gulf and will delight in every digression about dentists and the pleasures of farting alone in one’s room.”

“The average writer would make this disparity into fish-out-of-water commentary, but Dyer starts there and then goes off into space, spinning his observations into something profound and beautiful that socks you in the gut.”
“The notion of installing a writer of Dyer’s baroquely sensitive and self-conscious temperament aboard an American aircraft carrier stationed in the Persian Gulf is obviously a stroke of genius. . . .Thoroughly enjoyable. . . .The pleasure it delivers comes from two sources: Dyer’s potent descriptive talent as he evokes the sequestered and sometimes surreal environment and society of the carrier, and the comedy he derives from his own fish-out-of-water status and high-strung personality. . . .Dyer’s best is much more than good enough.”

“As concentratedly funny as anything he’s written….you read him for his ability to turn every topic, no matter how uncompromising, into another excellent excuse for a book by Geoff Dyer.”

The Millions 
“A unique and compelling stylist and a charming reporter, Dyer seems to have an absolute bang-up time on this assignment, and it’s a pleasure to go along with him….What I found most remarkable about this book is that Dyer’s uniform delight with everything and everybody he meets never gets monotonous.”

Tom Lavoie, Shelf Awareness
“Geoff Dyer is one of those writers who can’t stop—he’ll write about anything that catches his fancy and do it really well….This is a riveting (excuse the pun) excursion into bigness and ‘endless walkways, hatches, and doorways,’ and it’s totally engrossing…..Dyer goes on quite a trip and keeps us intrigued the whole way.”

Publishers Weekly
“An often hilarious and aphoristic, short-chaptered account written by a British essayist who is fascinated by American culture….a highly entertaining read.”

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
“Geoff Dyer deftly blends two stories into one short book: a closely observed, respectful account of life and work aboard an aircraft carrier, and the comic adventure of being ‘the oldest and tallest person on ship,’ ducking and stooping his head constantly, struggling with the food and the noise of jets.”

Tampa Bay Tribune
“In a book where metaphors and similes could easily run wild, Dyer deploys them sparingly and to good effect….It’s hard not to like a writer who can admit that, in talking to crew members about a man-overboard emergency, he comes armed ‘with my knack for idiotic pleasantry, anchored in zero knowledge’….The ship’s routines and drills meant there was ‘never a dull moment,’ yet ‘an endless succession of dull moments.’ Nothing dull about Dyer, though.”

Jason Diamond, Flavorwire
“When Geoff Dyer wants to write about something, he gets totally into it. Be it a Russian film or yoga, Dyer’s unique take on whatever situation he’s focused on always yields a great book. In this latest case, Dyer finds himself on an American supercarrier, and the results are nothing short of superb.”

Huffington Post

“When Dyer delves into a specific topic, he delves deeply, which is why we’re looking forward to his latest exploration: what life aboard an aircraft carrier is like. As always, he laces his observations with comedy and captivating storytelling.”

Jay Freeman, Booklist
“Unique, interesting, and surprising . . . fascinating.”

Billy Collins, author of
Aimless Love
“Geoff Dyer has managed to do again what he does best: insert himself into an exotic and demanding environment (sometimes, his own flat, but here, the violent wonders of an aircraft carrier) and file a report that mixes empathetic appreciation with dips into brilliant comic deflation. Welcome aboard the edifying and sometimes hilarious ship Dyer.”

Annie Dillard, author of
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
“What could be better than weeks far away on the flat seas of the Arabian Gulf with Geoff Dyer? He is, if possible, even more witty and charming than usual. The carrier's hugeness, its crew's tireless cheer and openness, and the enormous mechanical and electrical forces at work everywhere fare wonderfully here with Dyer's unique combination of depth, irreverence and explosive humor.”

John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead
“I hope one day to meet the demented genius who decided to put Geoff Dyer aboard an American aircraft carrier. The result sounds in places as if Sterne en route to his sentimental journey had paused for a week's stint on HMS Victory. There's something like New Journalism happening but in the hands of a writer who'll suddenly flash out sentences such as, 'The sea was a prairie of glitter green.' In the end one is forced to call it "a Dyer book," which luckily for him and us is a high compliment.”

Steve Martin
“Dyer stows himself away on an American aircraft carrier, fortunately, with all his hilarious tics in place. A rare kind of non-fiction, with sentences that keep on giving long after your eye has sailed on.”

Brenda Wineapple, author of Ecstatic Nation
Another Great Day at Sea, Geoff Dyer's chronicle of his two weeks in residence aboard the USS George H. W. Bush, is a tale of routine, lyricism and terror, of long hours and hard work, and of camaraderie and conviction, which are a form of faith.  Original, humane, and very funny, Another Great Day is another great book by an incomparable writer.”

David Finkel, author of Thank You for Your Service
Another Great Day at Sea is what we’ve all come to expect from Geoff Dyer—another great book. I loved everything about it. It’s brilliantly observed, beautifully written, incisive, funny, and filled with stirring truths about life and the value of service.”

Sam Lipsyte, author of The Fun Parts: Stories
“A great day is any day you get to read Geoff Dyer, and this book is no exception. Witty, empathetic, and insatiably curious, Dyer is the perfect guide to the floating world of an American aircraft carrier. With Another Great Day at Sea he makes a perfect night landing on the ‘postage stamp,' with élan to spare.”

Tom Bissell, author of Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation
“I have read Geoff Dyer on World War I, jazz, photography, the Venice Biennale, and D. H. Lawrence, among many other subjects. It's as though his mind is slave to some unpredictable Internet browser inaccessible to the rest of us. His new book—an inimitably close study of life on an American aircraft carrier—is one of his best, funniest, and most humane yet. Geoff Dyer remains an unconventionally great writer—perhaps the most bafflingly great writer at work in the English language today.”

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First American Edition edition (May 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307911586
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307911582
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #504,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Geoff Dyer is the author of four novels and six other nonfiction books, including But Beautiful, which was awarded the Somerset Maugham Prize, and Out of Sheer Rage, which was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. The winner of a Lannan Literary Award, the International Centre of Photography's 2006 Infinity Award for writing on photography, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters' E. M. Forster Award, Dyer is a regular contributor to many publications in the US and UK. He lives in London. For more information visit Geoff Dyer's official website:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Isaac on May 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a sailor currently deployed on the Bush, it's a novel and welcomed experience to get an outsider's view of what our life is like, so after being sent a New Yorker article written by Mr. Dyer that was essentially a summary of the book, I knew that I had to buy the book itself. Although I wasn't here for the deployment he is writing about, I still recognize a few of the names he mentions, and it's great to know that even if he wasn't impressed with the food or accommodations (and let's face it, our food can be pretty bad), we Avengers left an overall good impression on the author.
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83 of 106 people found the following review helpful By TexasFlyer on May 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This book is just about as terrible as it gets when it comes to first hand reporting from a war zone/ship at sea. I was deployed on the BUSH and I thought it would be interesting to read a book from an outsiders perspective about something I lived through and about people I know personally, boy was that a mistake. Overall this is a quick read (took me a little over 3 hours one evening) but all I really took away was:

1. Mr. Dyer is high maintenance!!! He was absolutely appalled at the ideal of sleeping in a room with someone else (seriously, you are crammed on a ship with 5,500 people, a two man stateroom is a luxury) let alone going to he head (bathroom) with someone else.
2. Mr. Dyer has no clue about the military (he actually thought the ship had a bar, places to play ping pong or Badminton). While this may seem trivial to me it shows how he really did not prepare at all for this assignment, basically all he cared about was getting a single man stateroom and I guess he would figure out everything else when he landed. If he actually cared to know what he was getting himself into a quick google or youtube search would have answered all his questions.
3. The food is terrible and apparently he complained enough to where he finally got to eat with the Captain and have the CO's chief make him some food.
4. Apparently he was quasi stalking a married enlisted mechanic, he mentions her numerous times in the book, the be honest its a little creepy to read and seems more like page filler (I hope to god she never reads this book)

Overall Mr. Dyer did nothing for this great ship or its crew by writing this book. From an insiders perspective (I actually helped host a few Distinguished Visitors (DV'S) during my tour) Mr.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kenyon on May 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is important to understand that Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H. W. Bush is not a short version of Norman Polmar’s history of aircraft carriers or a repeat of Tom Wolfe’s “The Truest Sport: Jousting with Sam and Charlie,” both of which Dyer acknowledges in his book, the latter in particular as a source of great professional angst. The book is instead the very personal musings of an Oxford educated Brit by way of a scholarship who sometimes appears overly fond of fine food, accommodations, alcohol, drugs and women, none of which are readily available onboard. He is also a self-professed atheist, a superb writer and someone who believed spending time observing life on an American aircraft carrier was worth his while. As he put it: “Sitting in on a US ship . . . would be like staying in a small town in America (albeit one organized along unusually clear hierarchical lines), surrounded by American voices, American friendliness, American politeness, American Americans. That, I knew, would be a source of pleasure and happiness.” Dyer considers himself a lousy reporter because he can never keep the facts straight, but his descriptions of the various Americans he meets onboard, from the Admiral and Captain on down, work perfectly. His greatest day on board was a steel beach party on the flight deck where a promotion speech brought him to tears, the crew danced together and he heard Cooperhead Road for the first time blasting from speakers over the calm blue sea. He closes the book praying for those who go to sea in ships.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Barnes on June 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Readers that have a basic knowledge of modern carrier aviation can safely skip this book, you won't learn anything you don't already know. Other readers will get a sense of how much dedication and hard work is required of all hands to keep a carrier operating. Geoff Dyer, however, is so concerned with his own ego that he has missed an opportunity for any deeper understanding that he can share with a reader. He shamelessly admits that he lied and manipulated to obtain private accommodations aboard not because his work required it, but because he's just too special a snowflake to have to share a room. It seems to me that he interviewed sailors and officers only to confirm his own prejudgments and biases rather than gain any knowledge. The factual information seems correct, but the core problem with the book is that Dyer thinks he's just too good to really immerse himself in life on board the ship. I finished the book impressed again with the men and women of the United States Navy, and not impressed at all by the egotistical smarta*s that wrote the book.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson on June 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is not really a book about life on the USS George H. W. Bush. It is about Geoff Dyer. In this book, he talks about himself and his life....a lot! If I was to glean anything about naval life on an aircraft carrier, it would not be from this book. Most of the book was spent complaining, about food, about not fitting in. about fighting to have his own private space, about noise, about not really understanding. Yes he said some nice things about a few folks on the ship but that is about it. If you are going to write about life on a ship, shut up about yourself and relate only about the people and the ship. Grade F Geoff, you failed.
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