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Four Thousand Hooks: A True Story of Fishing and Coming of Age on the High Seas of Alaska Hardcover – September 19, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Adams was 15 years old in 1972 when he signed on to the halibut schooner Grant. The boat used to be his grandfather’s before he sold it to Adams’ uncle Jack. It was a summer of firsts: first visit to a strip club, first coffee, first brush with an Irish lord (that’s not what you might think it is). It was a summer of new terminology: skate, gangion, gurdy. A kid trying to fit into a man’s world, Adams threw himself into the job the way a boy throws himself into anything new: eagerly, clumsily, and with a whole lot of good intentions but not much ability. But he learned: how to bait a string, how to clean a fish, and how to turn himself into a man like his uncle (his own father having taken a different path in life). Sort of a true-life version of William McCloskey’s Breakers (2000), a novel about commercial fisherman in Alaska in the 1970s, the book is stylishly written and full of humor, drama, and, not incidentally, life lessons. A fine coming-of-age memoir. --David Pitt

Review

"'Hooks' has the feel of an honest memoir, valuable for its precision in describing fishing methods, crew interactions, and what Adams thought and felt . . ."―Scott Bowlen, Ketchikan Daily News

"Four Thousand Hooks is a marvellous loss-of-innocence book, informative, enjoyable and well worth reading."―Irene Wanner, Seattle Times, November 2012

"His first-hand accounts come alive on the pages, where the reader is swept into the story with the narrator. . . . The foreshadowing and timing of the story makes it difficult to stop . . ."―Christy Olsen Field, Norwegian American Weekly, October 2012

"Four Thousand Hooks says a lot about our ability to meet extraordinary challenges, and suggests that maybe we're all stronger and more capable than we realize. [It’s] filled with fascinating details of the fishing life, makes for awfully good reading."―National Fisherman, October 15, 2013

"“The well-honed prose tells a good story and one is encouraged to turn the pages to see what happens next. This is not only a very readable book but an important record of a particular type of fishing."―Arthur G. Credland, Mariners Mirror

"Four Thousand Hooks is one teenage boy's dramatic, yet humorous, coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of Alaskan maritime culture . . . a vivid picture of life and commercial fishing conditions in Alaska. . ."―Jennifer Huffman, Independent Publisher, February 2013

"This is pure adventure. Dean's story is…sinewy and spare, understated and often gorgeously written."―Ethan Gilsdorf, Boston Globe, October 2012

"Four Thousand Hooks [is] one of the best books about commercial fishing in Alaska. The author began long-lining for halibut at age fifteen and went on to captain his own vessel: it is a great book for anyone interested in life on a commercial fishing vessel."―Charlotte Glover, Southeast Sea Kayaks Blog

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press; First American Edition edition (September 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295991976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295991979
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,100,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Pappenheimer on April 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In this coming-of-age story, Dean Adams plants a hook in the first chapter-- and it is well-baited! There is no way to stop reading before you find out what happens to the Grant, a halibut schooner skippered by two generations of the author's family.

Anyone who has watched the Seattle fleet of halibut schooners migrate every year up to the Alaska fishing grounds and marveled at their elegance and durability, will appreciate the shame the author feels in that opening chapter.

In the first few pages of Four Thousand Hooks, we learn the author, barely 16-years-old, has hit a log on his wheel watch. The boat is sinking and the author may have to live the rest of his life with the memory of letting down the crew, losing his uncle's source of livelihood and sinking one of the most magnificent fishing boats ever built.

Before we find out what happens, we get a good idea of what's it like to break in on a halibut schooner. Once she leaves the dock, the Grant becomes its own isolated world with its own tough, moral traditions and standards--a dramatic transition for a 16-year-old boy.

The ending of this good read is even more amazing than the beginning. In a nice touch at the very end, we are brought back full circle to the model boat the author's grandfather gave him just before the old man went into a nursing home
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Format: Hardcover
I knew absolutely nothing about the life of a deep-sea fisherman before I read this book. I've never even seen "the deadliest catch". I did tend to lump the job into the same category as coal-mining in terms of its attractiveness and sheer hard work. So when I read "Four Thousand Hooks" I was coming to it from the perspective of an absolute newcomer, and wanted to learn something of the life, as well as looking for a good story.

Well, I got both. This is a captivating, fluidly-written and humorous book with a great tale to tell. I was, despite reading the book on a hot an humid day in the sub-tropics, transported to the cold, exhausting and relentless challenge that the writer went through. He starts as a child, out of his depth, with everything to learn. By the end, only weeks later, he is an adult, and a fisherman too. In the process, I learnt more than I ever could from documentaries or films, seeing fishing through the eyes of a seasoned mariner with a clear memory and wonderful descriptive voice.

Thank you Mr Adams, for a wonderful story, well and simply told. You are a great writer, and I'm looking forward to your next book!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I live in Alaska and have been on long line boats, trolling boats and other assorted vessels and this book still manages to captivate me though the writer's insight of people and things that I have the opportunity to see daily. This is a book that is difficult to put down.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fifteen years old and crewing on an alaskan halibut schooner for the first time away from home. This is in the 70's. Things change and much of this is just not there anymore. This may be the only author who will ever write truly of this life. And it is his true story. And he captures the voice of his fifteen year old self and tells that story grandly.

Oh. They have to abandon ship.

I believe people call this sort of a book a page-turner. I claim this book will appeal to many different people. And I suspect it will never become unread and forgotten.

Give it to your kids and read it yourself.

I wrote the above about 70% into the book. I was reading about the young Adams reflecting on the adult insights he had found. His remarks made me wish to hang up my clothes! I was reminded of Gretchen Rubin's "Secrets of Adulthood". Anything that might get me to consider growing up is impressive. :-) I have now finished the book. There is a spirital component towards the end and I though of Melville and Homer and others. Note the author got a "D" in eighth grade English and was given to understand he could not write.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a humbling, exhilarating, inspiring account of a teenager coming of age aboard a Halibut fishing boat in the 1970s. In a life not far removed from the hardship of Moby Dick's crew, Dean, a third generation Alaskan fisherman learns to survive pulling 70,000 lbs of thrashing, deadly fish out of the sea and onto dinner plates around in one short summer season.

You'll never take fresh food on the table for granted again.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you've ever worked on a fishing boat or wanted to you'll love this story. Dean vividly describes how it is to be a new hand on an iconic halibut schooner - he tells of rich experiences during a special time in Alaska. He was fortunate to be there & we're lucky to read about it.
The glossary lists terms alphabetically which may need definition & if you have any doubt about what a beautiful wood halibut schooner looks like there is a gorgeous model photo.
It touched my heart & I continue to share it with friends.
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Format: Hardcover
This is not the sort of book I would usually be drawn to - but after reading the first chapter I could not put it down!! Captain Adams describes a teenage summer so far from my own upbringing and yet manages to capture universal themes in a gripping and touching manner. I cannot not believe what these fisherman go through to catch the fish we eat. I will never think lightly of Halibut again!! Highly, highly recommended!!
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