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The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

A fascinating look at the ocean and those who challenge it

Don't take this book as your leisure reading on that next cruise or you will be constantly watching the horizon, wondering if that next freak wave is on its way.

My reason for reading this book, subtitled In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean, is ...
Don't take this book as your leisure reading on that next cruise or you will be constantly watching the horizon, wondering if that next freak wave is on its way.

My reason for reading this book, subtitled In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean, is that I wanted to learn more about huge waves, tsunamis, and ocean behavior. I was not so much interested in the surfers or their stories. However, not far into the book, that changed.

The author talks with scientists studying the phenomenon and hangs out with the surfers who tackle these big waves. Despite the recent improvements in monitoring and measuring, the science still has a long way to go and the ocean is still wildly unpredictable. While the scientific information is interesting and enlightening, I really enjoyed getting a bit into the minds of the big-wave surfers who attempt challenges most of us would never even dream of trying. Some have paid with their lives. Many are part of a close knit pseudo-family, enduring the squabbles all families have but watching out for one another, often at the risk of their own lives.

"If I scare myself once every day, I am a better person," he had said, "It helps to have that little jolt of perspective that life's fragile."

(This quote is from an advance bound galley, so may have changed in the published edition.)

The number of huge ships, especially the low-riding tankers, that just disappear without a trace and with little if any media coverage is amazing. Often these ships are registered to countries with loose maritime standards and crewed by under-trained third world natives.

The book also contains information on maritime insurance, climate change, marine salvage companies, lots of people and organizations involved with the vagaries of oceanic behavior.

I do wish the author had explained a few more of the surfing terms for the uninitiated, like I am. That is my only quibble with the book, and it is a minor one. All in all, the book is a fascinating read.

I was given a copy of the bound galley by the publisher, for which I am very grateful.

posted by SusieReads on August 21, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

My inner scientist enjoyed the waves, but I had surfer fatigue by the end.

How many ways can you describe surfing and waves. Apparently not enough to keep my interest. The Wave is written with chapters alternating between the science behind giant waves and the pursuit of extreme surfing. I realize that Ms. Casey probably got interested t...
How many ways can you describe surfing and waves. Apparently not enough to keep my interest. The Wave is written with chapters alternating between the science behind giant waves and the pursuit of extreme surfing. I realize that Ms. Casey probably got interested through the surfing aspect as Laird Hamilton's neighbor in Hawaii, but I lost interest in the surfing aspects of the book after a few chapters. There are too many surfers too keep straight and the waves at some point all come down to the same characteristics--they are big and bad ass and you should be cautious even if you know what you are doing. However, I did find the science fascinating and scary at the same time. I would not recommend reading this during a cruise or a beach vacation as you may have bad dreams. I was traveling while reading this and decided I should not read it in coastal low lands as the images of what could happen are somewhat alarming. I would have enjoyed more science and less surfing with the surfing used to humanize the story. By the end, I found myself skimming to surfing sections.

posted by Brad_the_nook_nerd on January 16, 2011

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