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Blue Meridian: The Search for the Great White Shark (Classic, Nature, Penguin) Paperback – July 1, 1997


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Blue Meridian: The Search for the Great White Shark (Classic, Nature, Penguin) + Far Tortuga: A Novel + The Tree Where Man Was Born (Penguin Classics)
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Product Details

  • Series: Classic, Nature, Penguin
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (July 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140265139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140265132
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #704,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Peter Matthiessen is a naturalist, explorer and writer. His works of fiction include At Play in the Fields of the Lord, Far Tortuga and the acclaimed 'Watson Trilogy'. His explorations have resulted in many fine works of non-fiction, among them Birds of Heaven, The Cloud Forest and The Tree where Man was Born. In November 2008, at age 81, he received his second National Book Award for Shadow Country, an 890-page revision of a trilogy of novels he released in the 1990s. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Peter Matthiessen was the cofounder of the Paris Review and is the author of numerous works of nonfiction, including In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, Indian Country, and The Snow Leopard, winner of the National Book Award.


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Customer Reviews

The great white shark is not the most dangerous predator of the ocean.
T. Kennedy
Matthiessen hadn't quite devolved to his present status as a venerated but unreadable author, though the book has it's frustrations.
Robert Langham
You can't help but get involved with this book, just as exciting and fascinating as any novel.
twilliam

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
Glad to see this little gem of a book has gotten a well deserved and long overdue reprinting. This is Matthiessen's true first-person account as a crewmember during filming of the feature length documentary "Blue Water, White Death." Several years before "Jaws" made the name of the Great White Shark a household word, millionaire Peter Gimbal set out to find and film the "white death" taking with him the best underwater photographers and naturalists in the world at that time. The search took them from the whaling grounds off South Africa to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia before they caught a glimpse of the ocean's most feared creature. If you like ocean adventures, or any good story about men and women on a quest for the unknown, then Blue Meridian deliveres. If you're aready a fan of Matthiessen then the only question is: Why haven't you read Blue Meridian yet?
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By sean timmins on January 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
In a time when the thought of swimming with sharks was to have a death wish, five diver/photograghers and one expedition historian set to the high seas in search of the ellusive Great White shark. This book follows the expedition from the cold waters of South Africa, throughout the Indian Ocean, and ultimately to Dangerous Reef, South Australia in search of thier quarry. Matthiessen Beautifully portays the ocean environment as one of danger and excitement. Having candid encounters with Oceanic Whitetips, hand feeding a barracuda, playing with sea lions, and finally discovering the Great White Death. This book is an excellent companion to the film "Blue Water, White Death".
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By twilliam on May 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
It's wonderful to be able to read the narrative of shark dives from the safety and comfort of home.
This is a great narrative of the expedition to search for the Great White shark...hopefully the numerous "specials" on TV and the recent article in National Geographic will help "save" this treasure of the ocean.
You can't help but get involved with this book, just as exciting and fascinating as any novel.
If you enjoyed this one, try _Snow Leopard_ or _Indian Country_.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "neutral" on April 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Blue Meridian is one of the great stories of underwater adventure and exploration. It's an account of the first substantial expedition to find and film the great white shark, and was conducted long before this type of film became routine (ala any Discovery Channel shark special). As such, not only is the reader presented with a wonderful and fast-paced story, but they are also exposed to a great deal of the (now) history of SCUBA diving and marine science. Because this was one of the first attempts to deal with sharks at close quarters, many of the techniques for filming sharks were tried for the first time during this expedition, and many of these techniques haven't been tried since (such as open-ocean swimming with feeding oceanic white-tips). There are also some charming anachornisms, such as Peter Matthiessen describing Peter Gimble giving him the "ok" symbol; a symbol now known to every diver, but then apparently new. There's a lot to find in this book. Don't be put off by its short length.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Field on May 28, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have very much enjoyed reading this book again and again, especially in conjunction with the film that the book describes being filmed, "Blue Water White Death", which so far as I am aware has not appeared in video form or I would surely have it in my collection by now. The film is acknowledged to be one of the better shark films in existence, and the book somewhat pales in comparison, but a worthwhile read nonetheless. I have read the hardback edition and now own the paperback. I must say I miss the color plates which are in the hardback edition. I sincerely hope someone will transfer the film to video at some point. Update 9/14/09: The movie (Blue Water, White Death) is now available on DVD!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Schonbek on August 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
Reading Blue Meridian on the beach in Nantucket, not far from the site of the filming of Jaws, I was encouraged that most of the book has to do with searching for, but not finding, the great white shark.

In it Peter Matthiessen tells the story of the making of the film Blue Water, White Death. Quite unlike the author's masterful nature writing, this is a chronicle about a film crew traipsing around the world looking for sharks. Most of the drama deals with interpersonal interactions and the fear of failure experienced by the expedition leader, Peter Gimbel. Son of the renowned merchandising magnate, he is seeking to establish himself as a film maker. If they don't find sharks and put down commercially viable footage he won't make it out from under his father's long shadow.

Here's a paragraph that conveys the kind of observation that Matthiessen sinks to in this particular work:

By now everyone cares about the film, quite apart from his own investment in it, if only because everyone cares about Peter Gimbel, who has his life's work on the line. A great part of the suspense of waiting for "Big Whitey", as the near mythical ruler of these silent seas has become known, is that his failure to appear could be fatal to the film. Therefore the ship is quiet. Against these stark horizons, even the throb of hard rock music has a tinny ring.

How this came to be packaged as a Penguin Nature Classic is anybody's guess.

Anyway, on page 188 of 204 Whitey finally puts in an appearance.

I wish he were as elusive around here. They just closed the beach at Chatham on Cape Cod as a result of repeated sightings great whites, apparently preying on grey seals in the area.

I guess I'll pass on the swim. And you may want to pass on this book. Read The Snow Leopard or The Cloud Forest instead.
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