- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (June 29, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393337014
- ASIN: B003F76JCI
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 798 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,797,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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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
“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 )
“Harrowing, relentless . . . and thoroughly enjoyable.” (Kansas City Star )
“Ferociously dramatic and vividly written.” (Entertainment Weekly )
“Takes readers into the heart of the maelstrom and shows nature’s splendid and dangerous havoc at its utmost.” (Philadelphia Inquirer )
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While the book and the movie differ (from little things like The Crow's Nest doesn't back up to the harbor to large things like the movie's speculation of what went on on-board the Andrea Gail), if you enjoy one of them you will enjoy the other. I watched the movie again shortly after finishing the book just for comparison.
For anyone who enjoys non-fiction books about people facing tremendous odds against nature such as climbing the huge mountains such as Everest or through-walking the Appalachian Trial, this would be a good book for you to try. As in most situations like this, each individual decision isn't necessarily bad or wrong, but when taken as a whole the results can be catastrophic.
It also gives the reader a better understanding of the lives of the commercial fisherman on the eastern seaboard. While it is often romanticized, it is actually a very hard life with lots of grueling work that contains a lot of danger for both life and limb.
I enjoyed the book tremendously and I am sure I will re-read it in the future. Even my husband (who isn't a big reader) found himself fascinated with it.
I agree with the reviewers who complained about structural problems in the narrative. The book needed also needed more references. But this will not prevent you from enjoying this great book. If the book reads more like a collection of magazine articles, just shrug and accept it as that. The articles themselves are excellent.
Linda Greenlaw's book The Hungry Ocean is a good companion to The Perfect Storm. Greenlaw's book details a more normal swordfishing expedition, with funny stories and descriptions of day-to-day living on the sea.