- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (June 29, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393337014
- ISBN-13: 978-0393337013
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,070 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea
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*Starred Review* Junger’s most recent book, War (2010), which recounts his experiences with combat troops in war-torn Afghanistan, embodies both his ongoing fascination with life “on the tip of the spear” and his public image as a square-jawed danger-seeker. But it was The Perfect Storm (1997), written while he was a freelance tree-climber with only a notepad and an idea, that put him on the map. The outline is well known because the events made the news, because the book became a best-seller, and because the book became a major motion picture with A-list talent. In October 1991, a freak convergence of weather—a storm from the west, a cold front from the north, and a hurricane from the south—resulted in the Halloween Storm, a once-in-a-century gale that wreaked havoc on the North Atlantic. As befits a story so huge, Junger follows a diverse array of people through it, including fishermen, sailors, and rescue personnel. But it’s the story of the doomed swordfish boat Andrea Gail, whose crew was never found, that is the most compelling, and it is here that Junger shows the strength of his craft. In re-creating what might have happened to the six-man crew, he seamlessly weaves known facts with everything from interviews with survivors of other storms to explanations of fishing-boat architecture and the science behind drowning, with results so unforgettable that we can well imagine their final moments. But the Andrea Gail is not the whole story. There are other sword boats, the beleaguered sloop Satori with its crew of three, and a diverse array of rescuers whose actions are nothing short of heroic. There is a wealth of information here about the practice and business of fishing and about weather, sea, and people, but Junger shapes it all with an almost novelistic sense of pace and timing. Like Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air (1997), about disaster on Mount Everest, it’s a thrilling, sobering, and extremely accessible book that may well serve as the point of entry for readers curious about its subject. Rarely are works of nonfiction so deeply affecting. --Keir Graff
“Every boater is drawn to storm-at-sea stories, and this one beats them all.”
- Philadelphia Inquirer
“Rich, compassionate characterization, as well as taut, suspenseful prose. A tale that doesn't skimp on facts, yet keeps you turning pages from beginning to end.”
- Seattle Times
“Riveting…The natural upheaval holds center stage and acts as a character, but the story converges upon human beings―in this case, the six-man crew of the doomed Gloucester swordfishing boat Andrea Gail.”
- Boston Globe
“Harrowing, relentless…and thoroughly enjoyable.”
- Kansas City Star
“A terrifying, edifying read…Readers…are first seduced into caring for the book’s doomed characters, then compelled to watch them carried into the jaws of a meteorological hell. Junger’s compassionate, intelligent voice instructs us effortlessly on the sea life of the sword-fisherman, the physics of a sinking steel ship, and the details of death by drowning.”
- Dava Sobel
“One reads with the most intense concern, anxiety and concentration; and if one knows anything at all about the sea one feels the absolutely enormous strength of the hurricane winds and the incredibly towering mass of the hundred-foot waves.”
- Patrick O'Brian
“A fascinating book, not just about a storm, but about the hard-drinking, fatalistic lives of commercial fishermen and the families and friends they leave behind with each dangerous voyage.”
- Cleveland Plain Dealer
“The pages of this book crunch with salt.”
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Putting that aside, and talking strictly about the book, I would say that it is sitting around 3.5 to 4 stars. Especially until we get half way through it, is probably a two star book. It takes some considerable effort to go through the first half of the book.
As far as the story of the Andrea Gail is concerned, it was a little bit frustrating that it was supposed to be factual, but then you realize that we have no idea about what happened, and that everything is pretty much a guess. Accidents can be really interesting and complicated, but they can also be simple and, unfortunately, stupid. Sometimes, when we have rigid data, we are able to tell, and sometimes, as in the case of Andrea Gail, we will never be able to know. We can lay down four million different scenarios, and we will still probably not get close to what really happened.
Things drastically change when we get on the other stories. The book picks up speed there, and it gets compelling, and hard to put down.
All in all, an interesting book to read, but it wouldn't be one of my top priorities. I did like the simple language of it, and the fact that most of the time I didn't feel that pressure of "let me mesmerize you, my dear reader, with the awesomeness of my vocabulary, and how I can lay down sentences that will give you no clue about what I am describing."
I do feel that 4 stars are a little higher than what I would like to rate it, but 3 stars wouldn't do it a lot of justice either,... So 4 stars it is.