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The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea

4.1 out of 5 stars 1,033 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393337013
ISBN-10: 0393337014
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Amazon.com Review

Meteorologists called the storm that hit North America's eastern seaboard in October 1991 a "perfect storm" because of the rare combination of factors that created it. For everyone else, it was perfect hell. In The Perfect Storm, author Sebastian Junger conjures for the reader the meteorological conditions that created the "storm of the century" and the impact the storm had on many of the people caught in it. Chief among these are the six crew members of the swordfish boat the Andrea Gail, all of whom were lost 500 miles from home beneath roiling seas and high waves. Working from published material, radio dialogues, eyewitness accounts, and the experiences of people who have survived similar events, Junger attempts to re-create the last moments of the Andrea Gail as well as the perilous high-seas rescues of other victims of the storm.

Like a Greek drama, The Perfect Storm builds slowly and inexorably to its tragic climax. The book weaves the history of the fishing industry and the science of predicting storms into the quotidian lives of those aboard the Andrea Gail and of others who would soon find themselves in the fury of the storm. Junger does a remarkable job of explaining a convergence of meteorological and human events in terms that make them both comprehensible and unforgettable. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

The powerfully destructive forces of nature that created the Halloween Gale of 1991 are made vivid through interviews with survivors, families, and Coast Guard rescue crews.True adventure at its best
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (June 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393337014
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393337013
  • ASIN: B003F76JCI
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,033 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,923,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book had been languishing on my library shelf for some time and I wanted to get it read before the movie came out, invariably altering its impact. It did not disappoint. It must have been difficult writing a speculative account of the last few days of 6 men's lives, but Junger does makes an admirable attempt. Using what direct quotes he can, the story still comes off as rather detached, which I suppose can't be helped. The novel chronicles the final journey of the fishing vessel Andrea Gail, as it returns home on October 1991 hitting one of the worst storms of the century off the East Coast. The six crewmembers are adequately fleshed out in exposition early on, and their stories will intertwine with those of their searchers and fellow fisherman during their terrifying ordeal. I did find the numerous technical discussions of weather, sea-faring, rescue ops, etc. very interesting. Having just finished Isaac's Storm, another death and destruction by sea/hurricane historical novel I was particularly fascinated and frightened by Junger's clinical and emotionless description of the act of drowning. Considering how that description applied to the crew of the Andrea Gail as well as all those victims in the earlier novel, allowed for moments of morbid personal reflection. The novel really picks up, and is helped by the factual / eyewitness accounts of the other survivors of the Halloween Gale. The latter part of the novel dealing with the various rescues of other foundering ships makes for a quick and intense reading experience. It reads like an adventure story, but it is very sobering to stop and remember that these were real people with families and whose lives were cut so short. I can't imagine the upcoming movie will provide the experience and response the book did, I'm glad I got to it first. Recommended.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I usually don't read this type of book. With that said, let me also say that I picked up this book and didn't put it down until I finished the last word. This is not a fictionalized account of what the last moments on the Andrea Gail were like during that horrible 1991 storm. Don't read this expecting huge dramatic moments, overblown sensationalized heroics or a tragic love story. Granted, heroism, romance and drama are certainly involved in this tragic tale of real people facing real events. But what Junger manages to do is educate those of us who are bound to the land about the rigors, dangers and pleasures of those who work in the fishing industry. He weaves in some history of the industry, the fishing waters and of the crew of the A.G. themselves. He also provides some very detailed meteorological information along with specifics about marine behavior and tidal patterns. While reading this book, I would often close my eyes and try to imagine what it would be like to stand onboard facing a sheer wall of deadly water. Or to make the decision to risk my life to save someone else. The disapperance of the Andrea Gail is the focal point of the novel, but Junger also writes about the various rescue efforts taking place at sea during the worst storm in recorded history. Many people lost their lives, many others barely escaped death. This book brings all that to life. I give this book 5 stars because it is very rare for a true-to-life account to touch me and hold my attention for so long. Knowing the grim outcome of these events did not diminish the book's impact.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'll admit, I had doubts. I was expecting an exciting, fictionalized version of the actual facts. I was disappointed at first, because the book is written more like a history textbook in present tense. "Billy keeps talking with the other captains, studying surface temperature charts . . . " But after I forced my way past the first couple of chapters, I was hooked. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about fishermen, but that certainly made the crew of the Andrea Gail human to me, and I felt a teeny portion of what those men must have gone through in their last moments. I also have a brand new appreciation for the Coast Guard and the Air Nat'l Guard. My husband is one of those USCG men who spends months on his patrol boat in bad weather to rescue those who find themselves in trouble--whether out of stupidity or bad luck. I now understand his job a little better, and I wouldn't trade places with him for the world. Sebastian Junger does an excellent job leading us into the world of the rescuer, the fishermen, and even the National Weather Service. Some of the bits of historical description can be a bit long-winded and jarring as they shake you out of the story, but they're still interesting. An excellent book that'll make you glad that SOMEONE ELSE is catching your fish and rescuing people. Just don't expect a typical novel-ish style of writing. This is different, but once you get used to it, you might find that the book is hard to put down.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The strength for me of this book is that for once the sea isn't disguised as a person with human-like "emotions." This is not "The Cruel Sea". Junger sets his story in the impacable worlds of physics and economics. Want to know HOW the sea can rise to heights no vessel can endure? Junger will tell you. Want to know WHY men and women risk the graveyard shoals of the Grand Banks - Junger will explain the economics of fish. It gives an inexorable inevitability to the tragedy that follows.
Junger has been described as writing like "a poet who went to meteorology school." He is not a poet. His style, for the most part, is workmanlike. But he tells his tale without undue dramatics, letting the events speak for themselves - while the main character, the sea, sits massively at the outer limit of our human comprehension.
Start this book and it is like running downhill at the edge of control; you know the ending is not going to be pretty, but it isn't that easy to stop.
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