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The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean Hardcover – September 14, 2010
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Have you ever been on an ocean liner where half the passengers were turning green with nausea as the ship pitched and rolled in 25-foot swells? That's nothing. Dead calm by comparison.
Monster waves, the height of a ten-story office building (and taller) have taken ships --big, huge ships-- and pounded, pummeled, and overturned them, split them in half and buried them forever along with everyone aboard under thousands of tons of water, and it happens with a frequency that you can't begin to imagine.
I read those first pages, and by the time I got to Chapter one, I was electrified. This was going to be a page-turner of the first order.
Only it wasn't. As it turns out, Casey's THE WAVE is about 1/3 "The Discovery Channel" and 2/3rds "ESPN's Gnarliest, Awesomest, Surfin' of the Century."
Don't get me wrong. It's not that I have anything against people who surf. In fact, there was a fair amount of the surfing story that I found simply fascinating (and until reading this book, I knew NOTHING about.)
Case in point: Cortes Bank. This is an area in the Pacific Ocean about 115 miles off the coast of San Diego. As it happens, there is a submerged, underwater chain of islands there, and when the large Pacific swells --beefed up by storm fronts-- hit the shallow water... well, surf's up, dude, in a majorly-tasty way.Read more ›
I haven't read Casey's other book, about sharks, nor have I read her as editor of Oprah's O Magazine (I have trouble picking up a publication that has its owner on the cover every issue, who also named it after herself). After reading The Wave, I might just check out Casey's other writing, as she understands what good scribbling is all about. She always keeps things moving, rarely bogging down in arcane detail even when discussing the science of climatology, waves, etc, and has a fine eye for the telling fact. Perhaps too fine, but we'll get to that in a minute. What's best about The Wave is the overall scope; Casey links how the earth's weather is changing to how waves are growing, and there's no denying the stats: there is a clear correlation. She visits various scientists and marine salvage folks and shares their stories; they all agree that we're seeing the oceans get nuttier, and it's only just beginning.
Enter our hero! Laird "Larry" Hamilton, big wave rider extraordinaire. In this book he comes off as very humble, very brave, and very wise. You root for him at every turn on every wave and it's clear that Casey has quite a rapport with the guy. She always seems to be at his house, near the infamous Jaws/Pe'ahi, a Maui big wave break, chatting with Larry and Curly and Moe. Just kidding.Read more ›
If you stick to the waves, mixing oceanographers and surfers makes sense. But the author goes much deeper and starts sounding like a romance novelist:
"Though he was almost always smiling, there was a dark intensity to McNamara's presense. His hair was close-cropped and jet-black, his eyes were deeper than brown."
"He was a tallish, jovial Virginian, with a silver brush cut with a neat goatee. When he smiled, which was often, he revealed a set of perfect white teeth."
"Even the greenish fluorescent lighting in his office couldn't dampen his exuberant aura. His brown hair grew lavishly onto his face, happy curlicues of sideburn and mustache and beard."
Women's appearance gets much less attention, the last quote is followed by:
"Across from him sat his colleague, Dr. Christine Gommenginger, in a smart navy blue dress."
Okay, so it's a book about sexy men and the ocean. But then the author gets to science.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the best books I have read. Well written and excellent information about the activity of the oceans, where we get our weather and much more including the lives of... Read morePublished 14 days ago by Shopper Wilma
really well done. she explains the science so that most anyone can understand. i always tell people to read this book.Published 23 days ago by RB
This was the first of Ms . Casey 's books I came across. I'm certainly going to read the others asap. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Fascinating book. Susan Casey's lively writing style and understanding of the big wave surfers' lifestyle added a depth of interest to this story. Read morePublished 2 months ago by RunningCat
I rated three stars mostly because I was expecting an expose on rogue waves rather than a story mostly about surfers.Published 3 months ago by GPS