From Publishers Weekly
Burke, "a devoted angler" and a Forbes staff writer, chases down the most famous characters in the years-long quest to top the world record for biggest largemouth bass, at 22 pounds, four ounces, set in 1932 by a 20-year-old Georgia farmer under now-questionable conditions. Burke admirably brings to life the people who enter into such a chase, and he finds good drama in the techniques and sacrifices necessary to pursue such a goal. Readers meet Bob Crupi, a Los Angeles cop whose single-minded pursuit of the record provides an escape from his stressful job, but also threatens his marriage and makes him a stranger to his kids. There's also Mike Long, whom Burke calls "the best big-bass fisherman alive, period" because of the number of largemouth Long has yanked out of the waters of Southern California. Long's fame and reputation have allowed him to cast with the likes of Robin Williams and Nick Lachey, but that fame comes at a price, as would-be record-breakers clog the lakes and ponds Long frequents, threatening to steal his big haul. Throughout, Burke sprinkles ruminations on the science and details of bass fishing, nicely sewing together a well-paced tale about "what we humans will do, what we will gain and what we are willing to sacrifice, in attempting to reach a goal." (Mar.)
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Those who think largemouth-bass fishing is a minor hobby should explain that to the 11.3 million "hard-core" bass fishers in America (those who spend at least 15 days a year fishing). Some observers compare largemouth-bass fishing today to the status of NASCAR just 10 years ago--on the verge of exploding into national awareness. Burke's engaging, informed account of the sport, which began as an article for Forbes, explains just why bass fishing has become so popular: the proliferation of largemouth bass in lakes nationwide, their fight on the rod, and a professional circuit that supports some 500 bass fishers. There are also the fame and cash that come from landing the Big One, the record fish having been caught in 1932 at a whopping 22 pounds, 4 ounces. While Burke profiles several of the thousands of deadly serious bass fishers fixated on the record, he points to the loopy way that that fish might be caught: "Anyone could break it. Whereas you or I will never top the single-season home-run record in baseball, we could land the next world-record bass." Alan Moores
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