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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2005
This is simply one of the best, most well written books I have ever read---on any subject! My highest compliment is that I wish it had gone on and on. If Mr. Burke decides to write another book, I shall be the first in line to purchase it. Great job, Monte!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2005
Monte Burke's book Sowbelly, which chronicles the pursuit of the world record bass, is a great read that should appeal to all types. In addition to being a great fishing tale, it also looks into the depths of some very interesting lives.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2005
A friend of mine gave me this book a few months ago. I rolled my eyes and laughed, but he swore I would like the book. I'm a non-fish eating vegetarian and I have been for 16 years. I'm appalled by dead animals hanging on walls. If I want to relax, I think restorative yoga, not fishing. "Just read it." He said. I took it, but I knew I wouldn't read it.

Then this past weekend I was somewhere out in the middle of nowhere where I had read all of the books and magazines except for this one. And it was raining. And there was no TV.

So I picked it up. I figured I'd either kill an hour, or, more likely, end up napping. Three pages into the book and I was riveted. RIVETED. I finished the book last night, just a few days later. I don't think it's so much that this is a great book for people into Bass fishing, though I'm sure it is, but it's a great book for people who are interested in characters, in stories of drive, determination, ambition, guile and creativity. And that's everyone, isn't it? This story could have easily been about Olympic athletes or internet start-ups or anyone else who tries to be the biggest, the best or first. It's about how a quest shapes a person and effects everyone around them, including, and especially, their competitors. It's also extremely well written. While I'm sure he knows his fishing, Monte Burke writes in a voice that is friendly to the fishing ignorant. Sowbelly shouldn't just be marketed towards fishing people -- that completely turns someone like me away and I absolutely loved this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2005
The opening line from Melville's Moby Dick says it all.

This book is not about catching the biggest largemouth bass in the world. It's about the men who try to catch the biggest largemouth bass in the world. (Don't worry though; Burke recites plenty of fishing tales.)

Their stories are all a bit different but, at their core, have many of the same elements. No matter if it's the anger and frustration of Bob Crupi or a desire to be the "biggest dog" like Mike Long, each and every angler - addict might be more accurate - displays a single-minded purpose; to catch the biggest largemouth bass in the world.

Sowbelly is a great read!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A fantastic read! As the owner of the Creek Chub factory display of the World Record Bass and having fished with some he writes about including Porter Hall in Florida and Dan Snow in trips to Cuba in 1979, and closely following the exploits of others who persue big bass, I know that this authors reporting is accurate.

He also has dug deeper than anyone else uncovering a lot of information that no one knew, pulling it all together in a compelling way that helps us to understand the sacrificies made by those who strive to be the best or set a world record in any endeavor.

I will read it again and again and am highly recommending it to all my friends and you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2005
I just have to say, this is the most accurate account of the trophy bass scene, I have ever read. Riveting ! I picked it up, and could barely put it down. Finished it in two nights, but I am fixing to read it again. This book confirmed some things that I already believed, and it taught me much more.

If you are even slightly interested in the key players of the race for the world record Lagemouth bass, you should probably buy this book. If you are a trophy bass angler yourself, such as I am, this book is a flat out neccessity.

Fish Chris [...]
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2006
Just this past March, about a year after this book's publication, Mac Weakley (who features prominently in the book) brought in an almost certain record-breaker--a bass just over 25 lb out of Lake Dixon near San Diego. He ended up releasing the fish, and, to my knowledge, he is not going to pursue a world record certification (the fish was apparently unintentionally foul-hooked). On top of that, the fish was the same one that had been purportedly caught twice earlier at sub-22 lb weights, once by Mike Long and once by Weakley's friend Jed Dickerson. This was all just another chapter in this fascinating story, and this book is not only a great read--as others have said--but also a thorough background for someone who wants to understand the origins of the CA bass scene after hearing about Weakley's sensational catch.

I'd recommend that those who are interested in Weakley's potential record-breaker read this book--and that those who liked this book follow the ongoing story of record-hunting fishermen.

I remember seeing Bob Crupi in In-fisherman magazine years ago, when Lake Castaic was gaining national notoriety. This book closes the circle between those days and the present with a perspective that, though not completely an insider's, is very close to the action.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2006
Burke had me holding my breath in the heat of the day waiting for that ever so subtle thump of a hog on the line... what a great read. Why can't BASSMASTER capture this sort of insight, depth of feeling-there-in-the-moment instead of the same old stuff again and again.

The real characters, costly commitments and personal struggles are very well shared along with the clues to where the next world record might just be pulled ashore and weighed.

A very enjoyable read to be sure.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2005
And all this time I thought that fishing was supposed to be a stress releiving, sit on the bank of the river drinking a beer on a sunny summer day. Boy, was I ever wrong. These people don't approach fishing like that at all. "Nuts" is not a word that I would use, but it's not far off.

A little background, the world record for large mouth bass is now 72 years old. Other catches have come close to the twenty two pounds four ounces of that fish, but so far, none have surpassed it.

Since then, but especially in the past few years people have been diligently seeking to surpass this record. I hate to have to say this, but it is rumored that some people have even tried to cheat to break the record. Texas is even trying to breed the biggest fish, well, what would you expect from Texas.

This is the story of the quest for the fish, the people, their lakes, and tales of the "sport." It's a delightful read. And while you'll necer catch the winning pass at the Super Bowl, you could catch the biggest bass.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
WOW! What an awesome story! This was an amazing, riveting, and insightful book. I did not want the story to end! I have been tournament fishing for years now and this has been a delightful look into the hunt for the world record. I was enriched by the way Monte made me feel as if I had known these anglers and it was as if I had been right there! This is a MUST HAVE for anyone who is passionate about Bass fishing! A+++++
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