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

( 152 )

Overview

There is nothing imaginary about Junger's book; it is all terrifyingly, awesomely real.—Los Angeles Times
It was the storm of the century, boasting waves over one hundred feet high—a tempest created by so rare a combination of factors that meteorologists deemed it "the perfect storm." In a book that has become a classic, Sebastian Junger explores the history of the fishing industry, the science of storms, and the candid accounts of the people whose lives the storm touched. 'The ...

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Overview

There is nothing imaginary about Junger's book; it is all terrifyingly, awesomely real.—Los Angeles Times
It was the storm of the century, boasting waves over one hundred feet high—a tempest created by so rare a combination of factors that meteorologists deemed it "the perfect storm." In a book that has become a classic, Sebastian Junger explores the history of the fishing industry, the science of storms, and the candid accounts of the people whose lives the storm touched. 'The Perfect Storm' is a real-life thriller that makes us feel like we've been caught, helpless, in the grip of a force of nature beyond our understanding or control.

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Editorial Reviews

Kansas City Star
“Harrowing, relentless . . . and thoroughly enjoyable.”
Entertainment Weekly
“Ferociously dramatic and vividly written.... It's an indelible experience.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“Every boater is drawn to storm-at-sea stories, and this one beats them all.”
Dava Sobel
“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.”
Los Angeles Times

There is nothing imaginary about Junger's book; it is all terrifyingly, awesomely real.

Patrick O'Brian
“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.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“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.”
Boating
“The pages of this book crunch with salt.”
Library Journal
For readers desiring more depictions of powerful weather bringing down crews and for those who enjoy being immersed in a true adventure, check out Junger’s account of the 1991 storm that sunk the fishing boat the Andrea Gail, taking down its entire crew of six, and the rescue attempts by the Coast Guard and the Air National Guard to save others trapped in the same storm. Junger shares with Zuckoff a focus on the hour-by-hour nature of disasters, the same fine eye for telling detail and explanation, and the same respect for men who risk their lives to save others. This account of the fury of the sea and the human response to its terror is a gripping and grim one, richly textured by attention to the back stories of the characters—from members of fishing communities to rescue swimmers—and the worlds in which they operate.

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Washington Post Book World
Superb...told with authority, brio, and deep sympathy for those in peril on the sea.
Boston Globe
Mesmerizing....Packs an emotional wallop.
Philadelphia Inquirer
Takes readers into the maelstrom and shows nature's splendid and dangerous havoc at its utmost.
LA Times Book Review
A wild ride that brilliantly captures the awesome power of the raging sea.
Penny Smith
The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger is brilliant. I've given it to all my friends. It's got everything, drama, pathos, terror on the high seas, and then the exciting build-up to the crescendo with the 100 foot waves. — Cover Magazine
Anthony Bailey
...thrilling -- a boat ride into and (for us) out of a watery hell. -- New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In meteorological jargon, a "perfect storm" is one unsurpassed in ferocity and duration a description that fits the so-called Halloween Gale of October 1991 in the western Atlantic. Junger, who has written for American Heritage and Outside, masterfully handles his account of that storm and its devastation. He begins with a look at the seedy town of Gloucester, Mass., which has been sliding downhill ever since the North Atlantic fishing industry declined, then focuses his attention on the captain and the five-man crew of the Andrea Gail, a swordfishing vessel. He then charts the storm particularly formidable because three storms had converged from the south, the west and the north that created winds up to 100 miles an hour and waves that topped 110 feet. He reconstructs what the situation must have been aboard the ship during the final hours of its losing battle with the sea, and the moments when it went down with the loss of all hands. He recaps the courageous flight of an Air National Guard helicopter, which had to be ditched in the ocean leaving one man dead while the other four were rescued then returns to Gloucester and describes the reaction to the loss of the Andrea Gail. Even with the inclusion of technical information, this tale of the Storm of the Century is a thrilling read and seems a natural for filming.
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
Entertainment Weekly
Guaranteed to blow readers away...A+.
Washington Post Book World
Superb...told with authority, brio, and deep sympathy for those in peril on the sea.
Kirkus Reviews
The experience of being caught at sea in the maw of a 'perfect' storm (that is, one formed of an almost unique combination of factors), a monstrous tempest that couldn't get any worse, is spellbindingly captured by Junger. It's late October 1991, and the Andrea Gail, a fishing boat out of Gloucester, Mass., is making its way home from the Grand Banks with a crew of six, 40,000 pounds of swordfish, and a short market promising big returns. Coming to meet the boat is a hurricane off Bermuda, a cold front coming down from the Canadian Shield, and a storm brewing over the Great Lakes. Things get ugly quickly, unexpectedly. The Andrea Gail is never seen again, lost to 100-foot waves and winds topping 120 miles per hour. Junger builds his story around the vessel; he starts with biographies of the deckhands and the captain, and gives as complete an account of the boat's time at sea as he can dredge up, so readers feel an immediate stake in its fate. Since it is unknown exactly how the Andrea Gail sank, and because Junger wanted to know what it was like for the men during their last hours, he details the horrific tribulations of a sailboat caught in the storm, the rescue of the three aboard it by the Coast Guard, and the ditching of an Air National Guard helicopter after it ran out of fuel during another rescue operation. Junger's fine dramatic style is complemented by a wealth of details that flesh out the story: wave physics and water thermoclines; what it means if you see whitewater outside your porthole; where the terms mayday, ill-wind, and down East came from. Reading this gripping book is likely to make the would-be sailor feel both awed and a little frightened bynature's remorseless power.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393337013
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/29/2009
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 41,922
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Sebastian Junger is the author of A Death in Belmont and Fire. He has been awarded a National Magazine Award and an SAIS Novartis Prize for journalism. Most recently, he has been reporting on the war in Afghanistan for Vanity Fair. He lives in New York City.

Biography

Sebastian Junger considers himself a journalist first and an author second, which made his sudden appearance on bestseller lists in 1997 all the more remarkable.

Having decided to chronicle the 1991 tropical storm that swallowed the fishing boat Andrea Gail, Junger began working on the story without a book deal or even a magazine editor's interest. He spent years getting to know the locals in the fishing boat's home port of Gloucester, Massachusetts, figuring the account would be come part of a larger book about dangerous professions, or perhaps appear as a magazine article.

When the culmination of his work emerged as a book, the interest was overwhelming. Movie rights were swept up immediately; The Perfect Storm became the nonfiction book of the summer and stayed on bestseller lists for over two years.

Fortified with fishing history and meteorological information, The Perfect Storm tells the suspenseful and sympathetic story of a group of sailors caught in a deadly storm and the rescuers who went after them. Junger was negotiating a tricky course, as he admitted in the book's foreword: "Recreating the last days of six men who disappeared at sea presented some obvious problems for me ... I've written as complete an account as possible of something that can never be fully known."

Despite the story's inherent inconclusiveness, Junger provided compelling, chilling descriptions from survivors and first-person accounts about the horror of being batted about by violent seas and nearly drowning, as well as the difficulties of saving someone caught in a sea storm.

The success of the book made Junger fear he might become a complacent journalist: "What I was afraid of was that all this money would take away the incentive [to seek out stories]", he said in an interview with National Geographic later. Whether in spite of or because of this fear, Junger did indeed continue to seek adventure in the name of journalism. His exploits both before and after writing The Perfect Storm were chronicled in Fire, a similarly detailed and moving collection of his writings at the front of wars in Bosnia and Afghanistan, alongside smoke jumpers in the American West, amid the machinations of diamond trade in Sierra Leone, and in other perilous situations.

Junger is an increasingly rare practitioner of independent, entrepreneurial journalism. His skills are strengthened by his willingness to take personal risks and his ability to make complex stories both absorbing and understandable. It's an approach to reporting that might be considered an old-fashioned one: going out to get the story. For readers, the result is authentic, illuminating glimpses of worlds we might otherwise never be privileged (or cursed) to observe.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Junger:

"I'm terrified of spiders."

"My first job was at a restaurant called Garrett's, in Washington, D.C. I was a terrible waiter but I could handle a lot of tables."

"My mile time is 4:13. I ran 24:05 for five miles and 2:21 for a marathon (26.2 miles)."

"I'm an atheist. I don't own a Palm Pilot or an iPod. My car is nine years old."

Junger is a co-owner of a bar in the westernmost part of Manhattan's Chelsea, a homey pub named The Half King.

As late as 2000, Junger was still doing tree work, where he hurt his leg with a chainsaw. The injury prompted him to begin thinking about other dangerous lines of work, and eventually, to write The Perfect Storm.

Junger has established a foundation to provide opportunities for the children of fishermen like those whose lives and deaths he chronicled in The Perfect Storm.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 17, 1962
    2. Place of Birth:
      Boston, Massachusetts
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Anthropology, Wesleyan University, 1984

Read an Excerpt

GLOUCESTER, MASS., 1991

It's no fish ye're buying, it's men's lives.

--Sir Walter Scott

The Antiquary, Chapter 11

A soft fall rain slips down through the trees and the smell of ocean is so strong that it can almost be licked off the air. Trucks rumble along Rogers Street and men in t-shirts stained with fishblood shout to each other from the decks of boats. Beneath them the ocean swells up against the black pilings and sucks back down to the barnacles. Beer cans and old pieces of styrofoam rise and fall and pools of spilled diesel fuel undulate like huge iridescent jellyfish. The boats rock and creak against their ropes and seagulls complain and hunker down and complain some more. Across Rogers Street and around the back of the Crow's Nest, through the door and up the cement stairs, down the carpeted hallway and into one of the doors on the left, stretched out on a double bed in room number twenty-seven with a sheet pulled over him, Bobby Shatford lies asleep.

He's got one black eye. There are beer cans and food wrappers scattered around the room and a duffel bag on the floor with t-shirts and flannel shirts and blue jeans spilling out. Lying asleep next to him is his girlfriend, Christina Cotter. She's an attractive woman in her early forties with rust-blond hair and a strong, narrow face. There's a TV in the room and a low chest of drawers with a mirror on top of it and a chair of the sort they have in high-school cafeterias. The plastic cushion cover has cigarette burns in it. The window looks out on Rogers Street where trucks ease themselves into fish-plant bays.

It's still raining. Across the street is Rose Marine, where fishing boats fuel up, and across a smallleg of water is the State Fish Pier, where they unload their catch. The State Pier is essentially a huge parking lot on pilings, and on the far side, across another leg of water, is a boatyard and a small park where mothers bring their children to play. Looking over the park on the corner of Haskell Street is an elegant brick house built by the famous Boston architect, Charles Bulfinch. It originally stood on the corner of Washington and Summer Streets in Boston, but in 1850 it was jacked up, rolled onto a barge, and transported to Gloucester. That is where Bobby's mother, Ethel, raised four sons and two daughters. For the past fourteen years she has been a daytime bartender at the Crow's Nest. Ethel's grandfather was a fisherman and both her daughters dated fishermen and all four of the sons fished at one point or another. Most of them still do.

The Crow's Nest windows face east into the coming day over a street used at dawn by reefer trucks. Guests don't tend to sleep late. Around eight o'clock in the morning, Bobby Shatford struggles awake. He has flax-brown hair, hollow cheeks, and a sinewy build that has seen a lot of work. In a few hours he's due on a swordfishing boat named the Andrea Gail, which is headed on a one-month trip to the Grand Banks. He could return with $5,000 in his pocket or he could not return at all. Outside, the rain drips on. Chris groans, opens her eyes, and squints up at him. One of Bobby's eyes is the color of an overripe plum.

Did I do that?

Yeah.

Jesus.

She considers his eye for a moment. How did I reach that high?

They smoke a cigarette and then pull on their clothes and grope their way downstairs. A metal fire door opens onto a back alley, they push it open and walk around to the Rogers Street entrance. The Crow's Nest is a block-long faux-Tudor construction across from the J. B. Wright Fish Company and Rose Marine. The plate-glass window in front is said to be the biggest barroom window in town. That's quite a distinction in a town where barroom windows are made small so that patrons don't get thrown through them. There's an old pool table, a pay phone by the door, and a horseshoe-shaped bar. Budweiser costs a dollar seventy-five, but as often as not there's a fisherman just in from a trip who's buying for the whole house. Money flows through a fisherman like water through a fishing net; one regular ran up a $4,000 tab in a week.

Bobby and Chris walk in and look around. Ethel's behind the bar, and a couple of the town's earlier risers are already gripping bottles of beer. A shipmate of Bobby's named Bugsy Moran is seated at the bar, a little dazed. Rough night, huh? Bobby says. Bugsy grunts. His real name is Michael. He's got wild long hair and a crazy reputation and everyone in town loves him. Chris invites him to join them for breakfast and Bugsy slides off his stool and follows them out the door into the light rain. They climb into Chris's twenty-year-old Volvo and drive down to the White Hen Pantry and shuffle in, eyes bloodshot, heads throbbing. They buy sandwiches and cheap sunglasses and then they make their way out into the unrelenting greyness of the day. Chris drives them back to the Nest and they pick up thirty-year-old Dale Murphy, another crew member from the Andrea Gail, and head out of town.

Dale's nickname is Murph, he's a big grizzly bear of a guy from Bradenton Beach, Florida. He has shaggy black hair, a thin beard, and angled, almost Mongolian eyes; he gets a lot of looks around town. He has a three-year-old baby, also named Dale, whom he openly adores. The Perfect Storm. Copyright © by Sebastian Junger. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Georges Bank, 1896 3
Gloucester, Mass., 1991 5
God's Country 37
The Flemish Cap 65
The Barrel of the Gun 95
Graveyard of the Atlantic 117
The Zero-Moment Point 136
The World of the Living 147
Into the Abyss 166
The Dreams of the Dead 202
Acknowledgments 226
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First Chapter

CHAPTER ONE

GEORGES BANK,

1896

One mid-winter day off the coast of Massachusetts, the crew of a mackerel schooner spotted a bottle with a note in it. The schooner was on Georges Bank, one of the most dangerous fishing grounds in the world, and a bottle with a note in it was a dire sign indeed. A deckhand scooped it out of the water, the sea grass was stripped away, and the captain uncorked the bottle and turned to his assembled crew: "On Georges Bank with our cable gone our rudder gone and leaking. Two men have been swept away and all hands have been given up as our cable is gone and our rudder is gone. The one that picks this up let it be known. God have mercy on us."

The note was from the Falcon, a boat that had set sail from Gloucester the year before. She hadn't been heard from since. A boat that parts her cable off Georges careens helplessly along until she fetches up in some shallow water and gets pounded to pieces by the surf. One of the Falcon's crew must have wedged himself against a bunk in the fo'c'sle and written furiously beneath the heaving light of a storm lantern. This was the end, and everyone on the boat would have known it. How do men act on a sinking ship? Do they hold each other? Do they pass around the whisky? Do they cry?

This man wrote; he put down on a scrap of paper the last moments of twenty men in this world. Then he corked the bottle and threw it overboard. There's not a chance in hell, he must have thought. And then he went below again. He breathed in deep. He tried to calm himself. He readied himself for the first shock of sea.

GLOUCESTER,

MASS., 1991

It's no fish ye're buying, it's men's lives.

--Sir Walter Scott The Antiquary, Chapter 11

A soft fall rain slips down through the trees and the smell of ocean is so strong that it can almost be licked off the air. Trucks rumble along Rogers Street and men in t-shirts stained with fishblood shout to each other from the decks of boats. Beneath them the ocean swells up against the black pilings and sucks back down to the barnacles. Beer cans and old pieces of styrofoam rise and fall and pools of spilled diesel fuel undulate like huge iridescent jellyfish. The boats rock and creak against their ropes and seagulls complain and hunker down and complain some more. Across Rogers Street and around the back of the Crow's Nest Inn, through the door and up the cement stairs, down the carpeted hallway and into one of the doors on the left, stretched out on a double bed in room #27 with a sheet pulled over him, Bobby Shatford lies asleep.

He's got one black eye. There are beer cans and food wrappers scattered around the room and a duffel bag on the floor with t-shirts and flannel shirts and blue jeans spilling out. Lying asleep next to him is his girlfriend, Christina Cotter. She's an attractive woman in her early forties with rust-blond hair and a strong, narrow face. There's a t.v.. in the room and a low chest of drawers with a mirror on top of it and a chair of the sort they have in high-school cafeterias. The plastic cushion cover has cigarette burns in it. The window looks out on Rogers Street where trucks ease themselves into fishplant bays.

It's still raining. Across the street is Rose Marine, where fishing boats fuel up, and across a small leg of water is the State Fish Pier, where they unload their catch. The State Pier is essentially a huge parking lot on pilings, and on the far side, across another leg of water, is a boat yard and a small park where mothers bring their children to play. Looking over the park on the corner of Haskell Street is an elegant brick house built by the famous Boston architect, Charles Bulfinch. It originally stood on the corner of Washington and Summer Streets in Boston, but in 1850 it was jacked up, rolled onto a barge, and transported to Gloucester. That is where Bobby's mother, Ethel, raised four sons and two daughters. For the past fourteen years she has been a daytime bartender at the Crow's Nest. Ethel's grandfather was a fisherman and both her daughters dated fishermen and all four of the sons fished at one point or another. Most of them still do.

The Crow's Nest windows face east into the coming day over a street used at dawn by reefer trucks. Guests don't tend to sleep late. Around eight o'clock in the morning, Bobby Shatford struggles awake. He has flax-brown hair, hollow cheeks, and a sinewy build that has seen a lot of work. In a few hours he's due on a swordfishing boat named the Andrea Gail, which is headed on a one-month trip to the Grand Banks. He could return with five thousand dollars in his pocket or he could not return at all. Outside, the rain drips on. Chris groans, opens her eyes, and squints up at him. One of Bobby's eyes is the color of an overripe plum.

Did I do that?

Yeah.

Jesus.

She considers his eye for a moment. How did I reach that high?

They smoke a cigarette and then pull on their clothes and grope their way downstairs. A metal fire door opens onto a back alley, they push it open and walk around to the Rogers Street entrance. The Crow's Nest is a block-long faux-Tudor construction across from the J. B. Wright Fish Company and Rose Marine. The plate-glass window in front is said to be the biggest barroom window in town. That's quite a distinction in a town where barroom windows are made small so that patrons don't get thrown through them. There's an old pool table, a pay phone by the door, and a horseshoe-shaped bar. Budweiser costs a dollar seventy-five, but as often as not there's a fisherman just in from a trip who's buying for the whole house. Money flows through a fisherman like water through a fishing net; one regular ran up a $4,000 tab in a week.

Bobby and Chris walk in and look around. Ethel's behind the bar, and a couple of the town's earlier risers are already gripping bottles of beer. A shipmate of Bobby's named Bugsy Moran is seated at the bar, a little dazed. Rough night, huh? Bobby says. Bugsy grunts. His real name is Michael. He's got wild long hair and a crazy reputation and everyone in town loves him. Chris invites him to join them for breakfast and Bugsy slides off his stool and follows them out the door into the light rain. They climb into Chris's 20-year-old Volvo and drive down to the White Hen Pantry and shuffle in, eyes bloodshot, heads throbbing. They buy sandwiches and cheap sunglasses and then they make their way out into the unrelenting greyness of the day. Chris drives them back to the Nest and they pick up 30-year-old Dale Murphy, another crew member from the Andrea Gail, and head out of town.

Dale's nickname is Murph, he's a big grizzly bear of a guy from Bradenton Beach, Florida. He has shaggy black hair, a thin beard, and angled, almost Mongolian eyes; he gets a lot of looks around town. He has a three-year-old baby, also named Dale, whom he openly adores. His ex-wife, Debra, was three-time Southwestern Florida Women's boxing champion and by all rights, young Dale is going to be a bruiser. Murph wants to get him some toys before he leaves, and Chris takes the three men to the shopping center out by Good Harbor Beach. They go into the Ames and Bobby and Bugsy get extra thermals and sweats for the trip and Murph walks down the aisles, filling a cart with Tonka trucks and firemen's helmets and ray guns. When he can't fit any more in he pays for it, and they all pile into the car and drive back to the Nest. Murph gets out and the other three decide to drive around the corner to the Green Tavern for another drink.

The Green Tavern looks like a smaller version of the Nest, all brick and false timber. Across the street is a bar called Bill's; the three bars form the Bermuda Triangle of downtown Gloucester. Chris and Bugsy and Bobby walk in and seat themselves at the bar and order a round of beers. The television's going and they watch it idly and talk about the trip and the last night of craziness at the Nest. Their hangovers are starting to soften. They drink another round and maybe half an hour goes by and finally Bobby's sister Mary Anne walks in. She's a tall blonde who inspires crushes in the teenaged sons of some of her friends, but there's a certain no-nonsense air about her that has always kept Bobby on his toes. Oh shit, here she comes, he whispers.

He hides his beer behind his arm and pulls the sunglasses down over his black eye. Mary Anne walks up. What do you think I am, stupid? she asks. Bobby pulls the beer out from hiding. She looks at his eye. Nice one, she says.

I was in a riff downtown.

Right.

Someone buys her a wine cooler and she takes a couple of sips. I just came to make sure you were getting on the boat, she says. You shouldn't be drinking so early in the day.

Bobby's a big, rugged kid. He was sickly as a child--he had a twin who died a few weeks after birth--but as he got older he got stronger and stronger. He used to play tackle football in pick-up games where broken bones were a weekly occurrence. In his jeans and hooded sweatshirt he looks like such a typical fisherman that a photographer once took a picture of him for a postcard of the waterfront; but still, Mary Anne's his older sister, and he's in no position to contradict her.

Chris loves you, he says suddenly. I do, too.

Mary Anne isn't sure how to react. She's been angry at Chris lately--because of the drinking, because of the black eye--but Bobby's candor has thrown her off. He's never said anything like that to her before. She stays long enough to finish her wine cooler and then heads out the door.

The first time Chris Cotter saw the Crow's Nest she swore she'd never go in; it just looked too far down some road in life she didn't want to be on. She happened to be friends with Mary Anne Shatford, however, and one day Mary Anne dragged her through the heavy wooden door and introduced her around. It was a fine place: people bought drinks for each other like they said hello and Ethel cooked up a big pot of fish chowder from time to time, and before Chris knew it she was a regular. One night she noticed a tall young man looking at her and she waited for him to come over, but he never did. He had a taut, angular face, square shoulders, and a shy cast to his eyes that made her think of Bob Dylan. The eyes alone were enough. He kept looking at her but wouldn't come over, and finally he started heading for the door.

Where are you goin'? she said, blocking his way.

To the Mariner.

The Irish Mariner was next door and in Chris's mind it was really down the road to hell. I'm not crossin' over, thought Chris, I'm in the Nest and that's enough, the Mariner's the bottom of the bucket. And so Bobby Shatford walked out of her life for a month or so. She didn't see him again until New Year's Eve.

"I'm in the Nest," she says, "and he's across the bar and the place is packed and insane and it's gettin' near the twelve o'clock thing and finally Bobby and I talk and go over to another party. I hung with Bobby, and I did, I brought him home and we did our thing, our drunken thing and I remember waking up the next morning and looking at him and thinking, Oh my God this is a nice man what have I done? I told him, You gotta get out of here before my kids wake up, and after that he started callin' me."

Chris was divorced and had three children and Bobby was separated and had two. He was bartending and fishing to pay off a child-support debt and splitting his time between Haskell Street and his room above the Nest. There are a dozen or so rooms available, and they're very cheap if you know the right person. Like your mother, the bartender. Soon Chris and Bobby were spending every minute together; it was as if they'd known each other their whole lives. One evening while drinking mudslides at the Mariner--Chris had crossed over--Bobby got down on his knees and asked her to marry him. Of course I will! she screamed, and then, as far as they were concerned, a life together was only a matter of time.

Time--and money. Bobby's wife had sued him for nonpayment of child support, and it went to court late in the spring of 1991. Bobby's choice was to make a payment or go to jail right then and there, so Ethel came up with the money, and afterward they all went to a bar to recover. Bobby proposed to Chris again, in front of Ethel this time, and when they were alone he said that he had a site on the Andrea Gail if he wanted it. The Andrea Gail was a well-known sword boat captained by an old friend of the family's, Billy Tyne. Tyne had essentially been handed the job by the previous skipper, Charlie Reed, who was getting out of swordfishing because the money was starting to dwindle. Reed had sent three children to private college on the money he made on the Andrea Gail. Those days were over, but she was still one of the most lucrative boats in the harbor. Bobby was lucky to get a site on her.

Swordfishing's a lot of money, it'll pay off everything I owe, he told Chris.

That's good, how long do you go out for?

Thirty days.

Thirty days? Are you crazy?

"We were in love and we were jealous and I just couldn't imagine it," says Chris. "I couldn't even imagine half a day."

Sword boats are also called longliners because their mainline is up to forty miles long. It's baited at intervals and paid out and hauled back every day for ten or twenty days. The boats follow the swordfish population like seagulls after a day trawler, up to the Grand Banks in the summer and down to the Caribbean in the winter, eight or nine trips a year. They're big boats that make big money and they're rarely in port more than a week at a time to gear-up and make repairs. Some boats go as far away as the coast of Chile to catch their fish, and fishermen think nothing of grabbing a plane to Miami or San Juan to secure a site on a boat. They're away for two or three months and then they come home, see their families, and head back out again. They're the high rollers of the fishing world and a lot of them end up exactly where they started. "They suffer from a lack of dreams," as one local said.

Bobby Shatford, however, did happen to have some dreams. He wanted to settle down, get his money problems behind him, and marry Chris Cotter. According to Bobby Shatford, the woman he was separated from was from a very wealthy family, and he didn't understand why he should owe so much money, but obviously the courts didn't see it that way. He wasn't going to be free until everything was paid off, which would be seven or eight trips on the Andrea Gail--a good year of fishing. So in early August, 1991, Bobby left on the first swordfishing trip of his life. When they left the dock his eyes swept the parking lot, but Chris had already gone. It was bad luck, they'd decided, to watch your lover steam out to sea.

Chris had no way of knowing when Bobby was due in, so after several weeks she started spending a lot of time down at Rose's wharf, where the Andrea Gail takes out, waiting for her to come into view. There are houses in Gloucester where grooves have been worn into the floorboards by women pacing past an upstairs window, looking out to sea. Chris didn't wear down any floorboards, but day after day she filled up the ash tray in her car. In late August a particularly bad hurricane swept up the coast--Hurricane Bob--and Chris went over to Ethel's and did nothing but watch the Weather Channel and wait for the phone to ring. The storm flattened entire groves of locust trees on Cape Cod, but there was no bad news from the fishing fleet so, uneasily, Chris went back to her lookout at Rose's.

Finally, one night in early September, the phone rang in Chris's apartment. It was Billy Tyne's new girlfriend, calling from Florida. They're coming in tomorrow night, she said. I'm flying into Boston, could you pick me up?

"I was a wreck, I was out of my mind," says Chris. "I picked Billy's girlfriend up at Logan and the boat came in while I was gone. We pulled up across the street from the Nest and we could see the Andrea Gail tied up by Rose's and so I flew across the street and the door opens and it was Bobby. He went, `Aaagh,' and he picked me up in the air and I had my legs wrapped around his waist and we must've been there twenty minutes like that, I wouldn't get off him, I couldn't, it had been thirty days and there was no way in hell."

The collected company in the bar watched the reunion through the window. Chris asked Bobby if he'd found a card that she'd hidden in his seabag before he left. He had, he said. He read it every night.

Yeah, right, said Chris.

Bobby put her down in front of the door and recited the letter word for word. The guys were bustin' my balls so bad I had to hide it in a magazine, he said. Bobby pulled Chris into the Nest and bought her a drink and they clinked bottles for his safe homecoming. Billy was there with his girlfriend hanging off him and Alfred was on the payphone to his girlfriend in Maine and Bugsy was getting down to business at the bar. The night had achieved a nearly vertical takeoff, everyone was drinking and screaming because they were home safe and with people they loved. Bobby Shatford was now crew on one of the best sword boats on the East Coast.

They'd been at sea a month and taken fifteen tons of swordfish. Prices fluctuate so wildly, though, that a sword boat crew often has no idea how well they've done until after the fish have been sold. And even then there's room for error: boat owners have been known to negotiate a lower price with the buyer and then recover part of their loss in secret. That way they don't share the entire profit with their crew. Be that as it may, the Andrea Gail sold her catch to O'Hara Seafoods for $136,812, plus another $4,770 for a small amount of tuna. Bob Brown, the owner, first took out for fuel, fishing tackle, bait, a new mainline, wharfage, ice, and a hundred other odds and ends that added up to over $35,000. That was deducted from the gross, and Brown took home half of what was left: roughly $53,000. The collected crew expenses--food, gloves, shore help--were paid on credit and then deducted from the other $53,000, and the remainder was divided up among the crew: Almost $20,000 to Captain Billy Tyne, $6,453 to Pierre and Murphy, $5,495 to Moran, and $4,537 each to Shatford and Kosco. The shares were calculated by seniority and if Shatford and Kosco didn't like it, they were free to find another boat.

The week on shore started hard. That first night, before the fish had even been looked at, Brown cut each crew member a check for two hundred dollars, and by dawn it was all pretty much spent. Bobby crawled into bed with Chris around one or two in the morning and crawled out again four hours later to help take out the catch. His younger brother Brian--built like a lumberjack and filled with one desire, to fish like his brothers--showed up to help, along with another brother, Rusty. Bob Brown was there, and even some of the women showed up. The fish were hoisted out of the hold, swung up onto the dock, and then wheeled into the chill recesses of Rose's. Next they hauled twenty tons of ice out of the hold, scrubbed the decks, and stowed the gear away. It was an eight- or nine-hour day. At the end of the afternoon Brown showed up with checks for half the money they were owed--the rest would be paid after the dealer had actually sold the fish--and the crew went across the street to a bar called Pratty's. The partying, if possible, reached heights not attained the night before. "Most of them are single kids with no better thing to do than spend a lot of dough," says Charlie Reed, former captain of the boat. "They're high-rollers for a couple of days. Then they go back out to sea."

High-rollers or not, the crew is still supposed to show up at the dock every morning for work. Inevitably, something has broken on the trip--a line gets wound around the drive shaft and must be dove on, the antennas get snapped off, the radios go dead. Depending on the problem, it can take anywhere from an afternoon to several days to fix. Then the engine has to be overhauled: change the belts and filters, check the oil, fill the hydraulics, clean the injectors, clean the plugs, test the generators. Finally, there's the endless task of maintaining the deck gear. Blocks have to be greased, ropes have to be spliced, chains and cables have to be replaced, rust spots have to be ground down and painted. One ill-kept piece of gear can kill a man. Charlie Reed saw a hoisting block fall on someone and shear his arm right off; another crew member had forgotten to tighten a shackle.

The crew isn't exactly military in their sense of duty, though. Several times that week Bobby woke up at the Nest, looked out the window, and then crawled back into bed. One can hardly blame him: from now on his life would unfold in brutally short bursts between long stretches at sea, and all he'd have to tide him over would be photos taped to a wall and maybe a letter in a seabag. And if it was hard on the men, it was even harder on the women. "It was like I had one life and when he came back I had another," says Jodi Tyne, who divorced Billy over it. "I did it for a long time and I just got tired of it, it was never gonna change, he was never gonna quit fishin', though he said he wanted to. If he had to pick between me and the boat he picked the boat."

Billy was an exception in that he really, truly loved to fish. Charlie Reed was the same way; it was one reason the two men got along so well. "It's wide open--I got all the solitude in the world," says Reed. "Nobody pressurin' me about nothin'. And I see things other people don't get to see--whales breaching right beside me, porpoises followin' the boat. I've caught shit they don't even have in books--really weird shit, monstrous-looking things. And when I walk down the street in town, everyone's respectful to me: `Hi, Cap, how ya doin' Cap.' It's nice to sit down and have a 70-year-old man say, `Hi, Cap.' It's a beautiful thing."

Perhaps you'd have to be a skipper to really fall in love with the life. A $20,000 paycheck must help. Most deckhands have precious little affection for the business, though; for them, fishing is a brutal, dead-end job that they try to get clear of as fast as possible. At memorial services in Gloucester people are always saying things like, "Fishing was his life," or "He died doing what he loved," but by and large those sentiments are to comfort the living. By and large, young men from Gloucester find themselves at sea because they're broke and need money fast.

The only compensation for such mind-numbing work, it would seem, is equally mind-numbing indulgence. A swordfisherman off a month at sea is a small typhoon of cash. He cannot get rid of the stuff fast enough. He buys lottery tickets fifty at a time and passes them around the bar. If anything hits he buys fifty more plus drinks for the house. Ten minutes later he'll tip the bartender twenty dollars and set the house up again; slower drinkers may have two or three bottles lined up in front of them. When too many bottles are lined up in front of someone, plastic tokens are put down instead, so that the beer doesn't get warm. It's said that when someone passes out at the Irish Mariner, arguments break out over who gets his tokens. A fisherman off a trip gives the impression that he'd hardly bother to bend down and pick up a twenty-dollar bill that happened to flutter to the floor. The money is pushed around the bartop like dirty playing cards, and by closing time a week's worth of pay may well have been spent. For some, acting like the money means nothing is the only compensation for what it actually must mean.

"The last night, oh my God, the drunkenness was just unreal," says Chris. "The bar was jam-packed and Bugsy was in a real bad mood cause he hadn't gotten laid, he was really losin' his mind about it. That's important when you only have six days, you know. They were drinkin' more and more and it was time to go and they didn't get enough time on land and didn't get enough money. The last morning we woke up over the Nest `cause we were really ruined and Bobby had this big black eye, we'd gotten physically violent a little bit, which was the alcohol, believe me. Now I think about it and I can't believe I sent him off to sea like that. I can't believe I sent him off to sea with a black eye."

In the year 1850, Herman Melville wrote his masterpiece, Moby Dick, based on his own experience aboard a South Seas whaling ship. It starts with the narrator, Ishmael, stumbling through a snowstorm in New Bedford, Massachusetts, looking for a place to spend the night. He doesn't have much money and passes up one place, called the Crossed Harpoons, because it looks "too expensive and jolly." The next place he finds is called the Swordfish Inn, but it, too, radiates too much warmth and good cheer. Finally he comes to the Spouter Inn. "As the light looked so dim," he writes, "and the dilapidated little wooden house itself looked as if it might have been carted here from the ruins of some burnt district, and as the swinging sign had a poverty-stricken sort of creak to it, I thought that here was the very spot for cheap lodging and the best of pea coffee."

His instincts were sound, of course: he was given hot food and a bed to share with a South Seas cannibal called Queequeg. Queequeg became his adopted brother and eventually saved his life. Since the beginning of fishing, there have been places that have taken in the Ishmaels of the world--and the Murphs, and the Bugsys, and the Bobbys. Without them, conceivably, fishing wouldn't even be possible. One night a swordfisherman came into the Crow's Nest reeling drunk after a month at sea. Bills were literally falling out of his pocket. Greg, the owner of the bar, took the money--a full paycheck--and locked it up in the safe. The next morning the fisherman came down looking a little chagrined. Jesus what a night last night, he said. And I can't believe how much money I spent ...

That a fisherman is capable of believing he spent a couple thousand dollars in one night says a lot about fishermen. And that a bartender put the money away for safe-keeping says a lot about how fishermen choose their bars. They find places that are second homes because a lot of them don't have real homes. The older guys do, of course--they have families, mortgages, the rest of it--but there aren't many older guys on the longline boats. There are mainly guys like Murph and Bobby and Bugsy who go through their youth with a roll of tens and twenties in their pockets. "It's a young man's game, a single man's game," as Ethel Shatford says.

As a result, the Crow's Nest has a touch of the orphanage to it. It takes people in, gives them a place, loans them a family. Some may have just come off a trip to the Grand Banks, others may be weathering a private North Atlantic of their own: divorce, drug addiction, or just a tough couple of years. One night at the bar a thin old man who had lost his niece to AIDS wrapped his arms around Ethel and just held onto her for five or ten minutes. At the other end of the spectrum is a violent little alcoholic named Wally who's a walking testimony to the effects of child abuse. He has multiple restraining orders against him and occasionally slides into realms of such transcendent obscenity that Ethel has to yell out to him to shut the hell up. She has a soft spot for him, though, because she knows what he went through as a child, and one year she wrapped up a present and gave it to him Christmas morning. She's in the habit of doing that for anyone stuck upstairs over the holidays. All day long Wally avoided opening it, and finally Ethel told him she was going to get offended if he didn't unwrap the damn thing. Looking a little uneasy, he slowly pulled the paper off--it was a scarf or something--and suddenly the most violent man in Gloucester was crying in front of her.

Ethel, he said, shaking his head, no one's ever given me a present before.

Ethel Shatford was born in Gloucester and has lived out her whole life half a mile from the Crow's Nest Inn. There are people in town, she says, who have never driven the forty-five minutes to Boston, and there are others who have never even been over the bridge. To put this into perspective, the bridge spans a piece of water so narrow that fishing boats have trouble negotiating it. In a lot of ways the bridge might as well not even be there; a good many people in town see the Grand Banks more often than, say, the next town down the coast.

The bridge was built in 1948, when Ethel was twelve. Gloucester schooners were still sailing to the Grand Banks to dory-fish for cod. That spring Ethel remembers the older boys being excused from school to fight the brush fires that were raging across Cape Ann; the fires burned through a wild area called Dogtown Common, an expanse of swamp and glacial moraine that was once home to the local crazy and forgotten. The bridge was the northern terminus of Boston's Route 128 beltway, and it basically brought the twentieth century to downtown Gloucester. Urban renewal paved over the waterfront in the 1970s, and soon there was a thriving drug trade and one of the highest heroin overdose rates in the country. In 1984, a Gloucester swordfishing boat named the Valhalla was busted for running guns to the Irish Republican Army; the guns had been bought with drug money from the Irish Mafia in Boston.

By the end of the 1980s the Georges Bank ecosystem had started to collapse, and the town was forced to raise revenue by joining a federal resettlement program. They provided cheap housing for people from other, even poorer, towns in Massachusetts, and in return received money from the government. The more people they took in, the higher the unemployment rate rose, stressing the fishing industry even further. By 1991, fish stocks were so depleted that the unthinkable was being discussed: Close Georges Bank to all fishing, indefinitely. For 150 years, Georges, off Cape Cod, had been the breadbasket of New England fishing; now it was virtually barren. Charlie Reed, who dropped out of school in tenth grade to work on a boat, saw the end coming: "None of my children have anything to do with fishing," he says. "They'd ask me to take them out on the boat, and I'd say, `I'm not takin' you nowhere. You just might like it--brutal as it is, you just might like it.'"

Ethel has worked in the Crow's Nest since 1980. She gets there at 8:30 Tuesday morning, works until 4:30 and then often sits and has a few rum-and-cokes. She does that four days a week and occasionally works on weekends. From time to time one of the regulars brings in a fish and she cooks up some chowder in the back room. She passes it out in plastic bowls and whatever's left simmers away in a ceramic crockpot for the rest of the day. Patrons go over, sniff it, and dip in from time to time. FIRST CHAPTER CONTINUES

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Interviews & Essays


Before the live bn.com chat, Sebastian Junger agreed to answer some of our questions:

Q: What is your opinion on the recent popularity of "extreme games" (bungee jumping, skydiving, snowboarding)?

A: I think the recent popularity of extreme games is, in part, a reaction to the incredibly insulated conditions in which we live. Starting in the 1950s, more and more Americans have achieved middle-class status and, as a result, have wound up living in the suburbs. Many of the extreme-sports enthusiasts are college-educated people with professional parents who stared suburbia in its bland face and realized they didn't want any part of it. It's interesting to note that there are very few, say, sons of loggers or fishermen who are bungee-jumping off of bridges. (They're too busy trying to achieve a life in the suburbs.) In addition, there was a very strong environmental movement in the '70s, and again in the '90s, that focused people on the wild areas of this country -- and the fitness industry explored in the '90s as well. Extreme sports dovetails nicely with both these trends.

Q: Are there any movies or books that you would personally recommend for someone who loved your book?

A: Movies that I would recommend for people who loved my book: "Das Boot," "Apollo 13," "Zero Kelvin," "Black Robe," and "Rounding Cape Horn." (These are not all directly related to fishing or the sea, but they all influenced me tremendously.)

Q: What are a couple things that truly stick out in your mind, in regards to your experience in Bosnia?

A: In Bosnia I was working as a freelance radio correspondent. I guess what sticks in my mind was how little most people wanted to be fighting. Very few people I met actually hated the other side -- in fact, many had friends across "enemy" lines. They were forced to fight out of fear that a few extremists would kill them if they didn't. In an unstable country, it doesn't take many nationalists with guns to start a war -- were things a little different, the exact same thing could happen in this country. Don't kid yourself that it couldn't.

Q: What dangerous occupation do you have the most respect for?

A: I don't know if I could really say I respect one dangerous occupation more than another. I respect any occupation that is necessary for society to thrive, whether its farmers in the Midwest or loggers in Oregon. I'd eliminate the stock brokers and ad men before I'd eliminate the garbage collectors, in other words. (It's ironic that, in a completely capitalistic society, some of the most necessary trades -- teaching for instance -- are paid the least. I'm not even saying that's wrong; but it is curious.) The hardest job may well be offshore fishing; in that sense, perhaps I respect that the most. Who are some of your favorite authors?


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Reading Group Guide

Plot Summary
With its nail-biting suspense and nonstop action, The Perfect Storm has the makings of a superb thriller. But this story of a once-in-a-century meteorological occurrence, the lives it changed, and the lives it claimed is achingly real. Sebastian Junger's account of the fate of a group of swordfishermen battling a storm off the Newfoundland coast opens a door into the world of commercial fishing, historically among the most dangerous of occupations. Junger reveals how a finite supply of fish forces boats farther out to sea, and in increasingly hazardous conditions. He explains the unique set of circumstances that led to a storm of unpredictable strength and how even the most advanced technology cannot warn or prepare us for the whims of nature. And he shows us the sea in all its power: the gray horizon at dawn; the maelstrom of wind, water, and rain that make up a nor'easter; and the precise structure of a tidal wave the size of an office building as it curves and falls, playing havoc with any ship that dares to cross its path.

For some the life of a fisherman is a necessity; for others a necessary challenge. Junger profiles with compassion and empathy the people whose lives intersected with that incredible storm: those lucky enough to dodge it, those who fought it and won, and those who disappeared. The crew of the Andrea Gail left no message in a bottle, no clues about their final thoughts and actions. But Junger's careful piecing together of similar experiences, and his vivid depictions of a storm the likes of which had never before been witnessed, place us in the moment and in the hearts and minds of these doomed men. We know the fate of the AndreaGail's crew before we turn the first page, and yet we find ourselves hoping they'll survive. Such is the power of Junger's account--and we find that fact is often more incredible, more thrilling, and more affecting than fiction.

Topics for Discussion
1. Throughout the book, Junger writes of complicated and risky rescue missions in which the danger to the victims is weighed against the danger to those charged with rescuing them. How do you make a decision to go ahead with an "increased risk" mission that also imperils the lives of the rescuers? What are the issues surrounding rescuing those who knowingly venture out into risky situations?

2. What did Junger's profile of the Gloucester fishing community teach you about the commercial aspects of this field? Do you think there should be more or fewer restrictions on commercial fishing? Is it up to the government to regulate these methods?

3. What qualities does it take to be a sword fisherman? How would you characterize such people as Bobby Shatford, Billy Tyne, and other members of the Andrea Gail crew? How many of these men embarked on this voyage by choice, as opposed to obligation? Does this distinction affect the way you feel about their fate?

4. Instead of "fictionalizing" the parts of his book about which he had no first-hand information or knowledge, Junger made use of accounts from people who had been in similar situations to those he was writing about. How effective is this "second source" material? Does it make the last moments of the Andrea Gail's crew--and others who perished in the storm--more or less real to you? Would you have preferred that Junger create imagined scenarios to fill in the gaps in his story?

5. Did knowing the fate of the Andrea Gail affect your reaction to The Perfect Storm? Had the book been a novel, how do you think the author would have approached the story differently? Did any parts of the book seem like fiction to you?

6. Originally, Sebastian Junger wrote the account of the Andrea Gail as a chapter to be included in a book about hazardous occupations. How differently do you think people who risk their lives "on the job" approach life from those in relatively safe occupations? How does facing death change the way you face life? If you have ever been in a life-threatening situation, how did it change you, either temporarily or permanently?

7. Have the technological advances of the last century made us any more powerful against the forces of nature? Do you think we have developed a false sense of security when faced with the possibility of storms or other natural disasters such as earthquakes, avalanches, or forest fires? Do you think the crew of the Andrea Gail and other boats caught in the storm relied too much on their navigational equipment and not enough on common sense?

8. In recent years, books about real-life adventure have become bestsellers and "extreme" sports are the hottest recreational trend. How do you explain our increasing fascination with dangers of all sorts? What's happening culturally, socially, and economically in our country -- and in the world -- to compel us to take enormous, often death-defying risks?

For more information write to:
The Perfect Storm Foundation
P.O. Box 1941
Gloucester, MA 01931-1941
(978) 283-2903

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 152 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(82)

4 Star

(40)

3 Star

(20)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 152 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 21, 2010

    Junger got it right!

    I read this book shortly after it first came out on hard cover, I then reread it several years later. Junger did an excellent job in getting most of the details right. He told it like it was.

    I served aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Tamaroa (the cutter that rescued most of the Air National Guard helecopter crew) starting shortly after this event took place, I knew many of the key players ivolved in all that took place. I have met many others that were involved as well. (The Tam's decommissioning ceremony was a very emotional event in 1994).

    If you're looking for an acturate portrailal of what could and sometimes does happen on the open sea, this is a good book for you. It's also good for those who have ever wondered about what the U.S Coast Guard and the Air National Guard deal with on a daily basis.

    over all an excellent book

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2000

    A storm of a book!

    Nonstop action from page to page. The comepletly factual book actualy makes the Andrea Gail and the six men aboard come to life along with a monsterous sea with the power of God.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2012

    Wow

    This book kicks ass!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 15, 2012

    Excellent read

    The perfect storm book tells what its like to be a sword fisherman on the east coast. I can tell you it is a grueling job with weeks out at sea and little sleep. This book really tells you everything. Watch the movie then read the book. I purchased The Perfect Storm in ebook format.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An Amazing & Unforgettable Read

    The Perfect Storm was a gripping and tragic true story of the struggle between man and strong elements. This non fic novel is about the swordfish ship 'The Andrea Gail' and its crew on the rugged seas. The rare conditions that led to three seperate storms to merdge into one dagerously violent storm is known as the perfect storm. This storm produced waves as high and ten stories high and 120 mile-an-hour winds. Talk about crazy weather. The Andrea Gail is caught right in the worst part of this storm and the crew struggles to survive, the crew's friends and family worry anxiously to hear news of their loved ones. A touching love story and an excellent adventure. The writing was outstanding and very descriptive. Sebastian Junger got all of the setting detailed well and got great point of view of all family members & friends of the victims. The Perfect Storm, was a great and suspenseful non fiction novel. It was the perfect read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2012

    Sebastian Junger is a great author. He was able to describe the

    Sebastian Junger is a great author. He was able to describe the theme of the book so well and he nailed every detail. In the beginning of the book I could imagine the scene and even the hint of a harbor smell in the air. Even though the start of the book describes a sad situation, it still is enjoyable to read. There is sadness for the missing of the men when they are gone; there is so much happiness between Bobby and Chris. Gloucester, Massachusetts is described as a rainy and grey area to live in, but there is brightness between Bobby and Chris that lifts up the mood and gives the reader hope and a happy feeling. The book is a true love story. The power of love between the fishermen on the boat and their loved ones on the short is so massive despite their great distant apart. Everyone wants to see their loved ones again. I think that the whole point of this book is to tell the reader that even in the worst of times, there is a bright place. If you’re a reader who likes to know about history, it’s also a great book. Sebastian Junger includes stories about the past that explain how many things began in the main story. On the other hand, the book can get a little boring. Fishing can be an unexciting topic to read about in detail. There was also so much description of the storm that the book was a little slow at times. It was great explanation of the storm just a little too much for my taste. Nevertheless, this is a good book to read because even in the darkest hour, there is a bright spot that lifts you up. Also, it’s hard to find a book with such great description of every detail.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2008

    some books are good... some not so good

    Out of a five star rating, i'd give the Perfect Storm three stars. Not too bad, but at the same time not one of the best books I've ever read. It had it's ups and it's downs, but for the most part it had it's downs. Now i'm not saying it was a horrible novel, it had a tension and adventure. It shows how dangerous the sea can be, how it seems the ocean has a mind of it's own. It just needed a little more descriptive narrating and less of straight truthful facts. So this book is what i'd call 'moderately well-written'

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2014

    the perfect stor

    this is a story book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2014

    SkyClan's Elder Den

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    The book The Perfect Storm was a very good book. It had very des

    The book The Perfect Storm was a very good book. It had very descriptive and captivating tales of not only the Andrea Gail in, but many other ships and coast guard men. It was interesting to read and I learned a lot from it. I would recommend this for older reads, probably high school or older. It was a good book. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2012

    Excellent

    This story gives me a lot of respect for what the fishing people have to go through for their livelyhood. Think they well earn every dollar they make.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2012

    Love this book

    Great book to read found it hard to put down. Also very enlightening.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2012

    Anonymous

    I was a little disappointed in this book, it was an interesting read, but I felt that it delved too much into the history of other events and not so much on the Andrea Doria, which I persumed thats what this book was about. It did give me a knowledge of a fishermans way of life and how dangerous and treacheous the seas can become without much of a warning. I wonder with all the different technology of today, if it's made any difference as far as safety is concerned, if fewer lives and boats are lost at sea. It also depends on the skipper of the boat whether it heeds the warnings and tries to depend on his expierence to get out of a dangerous situation as it seemed happened on the Andrea Doria.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    This book was really enjoyable for me; it tells the true story o

    This book was really enjoyable for me; it tells the true story of a commercial fishing boat, the Andrea Gail, that fishes swordfish. The book describes a fishing trip the boat heads out on, and a storm that hits them during a trip, the author describes the storm as perfect because it could not possibly have been any worse. The trip the characters take is to a fishing spot known as grand banks near Newfoundland in Canada. The crew extends the trip, because the fishing was not going well, and they needed a profit. When they start heading home they are alerted with reports of small hurricanes around the area they are sailing through, but the captain of the Gail, Billy Tyne, decides to keep going, because their fish are spoiling and they all want to get home. When they are about halfway home, three hurricanes smash together and become one of the most violent ocean storms in history, and the Andrea Gail gets pulled into it and disappears. None of the facts in this book were made up, the waves that were ten stories high and the powerful winds that tore up the sea are all real. This book was one of the most unbelievable non-fiction books I have ever read. I highly recommend it and rate it 9 out of ten.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2012

    One of the best nonfiction books I've read

    Sebastian Junger is an amazing author who can tell a story in a book just like he was sitting in the room with you having a chat. By the end of this book, I felt I knew these people and I felt for them. Junger conveyed their bravery, determination, and grief to the point that I did more than just feel sorry for them; I felt respect. The movie did not do this book justice. For me this is a must-read.

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  • Posted October 27, 2011

    hard to read

    maybe it's just me, but I found the format on this hard to understand where it went back and forth between history and what were the conversations in the book
    I gave up after about 15 pages and deleted off my nook

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    The Perfect Storm written by Sebastian Junger. The reason I read this book is because my father was watching the movie and I watched with him. I thought that the movie was great. In the first half part of the school year we had to get a book for SRA. I saw the book in the teachers book shelf and thought that I may like the book and I read it. It turned out to be a great book. In the beginning of the book Billy Tyne the captain of the Andre Gail. The Andre Gail is off to a bad start already. It is September 20th late in the season to be heading out. Tyne can barely round up a full crew. Tyne gets Alfred Pierre an Jamaican from New York City. Bobby, Bugsy, Murph, Chris. They where going to have someone else named Adam Randall. He didn't get on the boat because he thought that the Andre Gail unsafe boat to be on. So Tyne got David Sullivan to take the place of Adam Randall. S Type Pierre, Sullivan, Moran, Murphy and Shatford are going to the Grand Banks on the Andre Gail. In the middle of the book are out fishing to get some swordfish. They start to catch some fish and everything seem to be going fine. Then they stop catching some fish. They only have about 20,000 pounds with them and that is just barley pays off every thing that need to get out there. They go for a day or two with out catching anything and the crew gets anger with Tyne. The next day the crew starts to catch a lot of swordfish. Now the crew is happy because they know that they have made a lot of money and have to get back .Billy gets the weather chart off the fax and he tells the crew that there is something big coming. The crew start to get everything of the deck. They also check to see if everything is running fine. Billy know that they are headed right for the middle of the storm. There are three storms and the Andre Gail is right in the middle off all of them and people are calling it the perfect storm. Billy is head to Sable island and there are sixty-foot waves there. Now the storm is at its peck and things are going bad on the Andre Gail . On the boat the windows are imploding and water is flooding the cabin of the boat they have also lost power on the boat because of the flooding. In the conditions there is no way the a helicopter could save six people and Billy knows it. The waves are now up to Seventy-foot waves and the only thing that Billy can do is try and take them head on and hope that he get over then top of them before they break. The Andre Gail or the crew ever got out of the storm. The crew may have got off the boat before it went down but with the temperatures of the water there is no way that they could live. Tyne, Pierre, Sullivan, Moran, Murphy, Shatford are dead. They were never found again. The reason that this book matters to me is because that the theme is not to fight nature and I believe that I also love the ocean and fishing I also like true stories . If you like true stories you would like this book. You also have to like fact because the you a lot of facts in this book you most take the book and the story and nature serious because everything that happens in this book could happen to you. So you can learn not to do what they did because you could lose your life doing it. If you like any of those thing then you would like this book.

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  • Posted May 9, 2011

    Stunning

    This is a total story of a real event. A real 'perfect storm.'
    When this storm hit in the late '90's we watched the water flood our street, 3 blocks from the Atlantic. Then we heard from a friend on Cape Ann what happened and that my son's CG boat was involved in one of the rescues. (He was off the Tamaroa by that time)
    I cannot recommend this book enough. It will hold your attention from start to finish.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2008

    Perhaps the Perfect Storm, but not the perfect book...

    Quite frankly, as a whole, the author does not do a very good job of engaging me in the story. It¿s informative, and that is a very good thing, especially in a nonfiction book, but perhaps it is just a bit too informative. It tells far too much about the history of sword fishing and way too little about that actual story. There¿s nothing wrong with that, but it¿s just not that kind of book I would enjoy. Like I said in the previous paragraph, the book is a bit too informative, and that is something I would change if I had the chance to. I opened the book expecting to read a story about survival among a crew of sword fisherman trying to stay alive in the worst story in history. However, I began reading and realized that three-quarters of the story is the history of fishing, the progression of technology in boats, and the number of deaths at sea, each one told in detail. I found myself disappointed at not being told the story that I had expected, and I would like to change that about the book. Overall, the author was not able to hold my attention throughout the book. I know when I¿m reading a good book for me because I won¿t want to stop reading until I absolutely have to. However, with this book, as a read it, I found myself wanting to stop and do other things, and I only read it to where I did because I was assigned to do so. Now, I am not saying that this book is bad, especially not for someone who loves the sea as passionately as Sebastian Junger it¿s just that I¿m really not interested in all the facts about deep-sea fishing. I would rather be told a good fishing story than read a good fishing manual. I learned a ton of information from reading this book, but none of it, for me, was very interesting, and as I sit here and type of this I can barely remember any of it. I don¿t know how deep a fathom is or how long a league is, but I do know that I will probably enjoy the movie more than the book. I have a friend who greatly enjoys fishing, and perhaps I would recommend this book to him, but overall, this book was written for a very select audience. Perhaps, if it isn¿t possible to write a decent novel about a horrible storm at sea without generically describing every detail of the history of the pastime for which the men are out at sea in the first place, then perhaps this book shouldn¿t be a book, but more of an article, or a short story. That seems more fitting to me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2008

    review

    ¿The Perfect Storm¿ by Sebastian Junger The Perfect Storm is a true story about the voyage of the commercial fishing boat Andrea Gail and the and it¿s memorable, once in a lifetime journey through one of the worst storms in history. The story begins in Gloucester, MA first introducing the readers to the life, and struggles of the fisherman. Many fishermen spend their time and money at the Crows Nest, a popular bar right next to the harbor in Gloucester. Also, as quoted in the book, ¿some fish because they love it, others do it to get quick money.¿ We are then introduced to the main characters, mostly in chapters one and two: Captain Billy Tyne and (some of ) his crew Bobby Shatford (Protagonist) , and his girlfriend Chris, not crew, Bugsy, Alfred, Murph (Dale Murphy) , and Sully (Billy Sullivan), and his girlfriend (not crew). The crew sets out on the Andrea Gail, and does not catch many fish at first, but sails onward (N,E) to the seas of the North Atlantic. Soon, problems develop with the ships ice box, where the fish are stored and kept fresh, so the fish start to go bad. At the same time, however, a storm, a mixture of a cold front, strong winds, a hurricane, and other factors, approaches the ship, and the crew must decide if they are going to save the fish and make the dangerous trip around the east coast back to Gloucester, or wait out the storm, and let all the fish go bad. I think that this book is written for a people with interest and background knowledge in fishing and ships. This is because most of the language used in the book to describe the settings, boats, and work the fisherman do, somewhat assume that you know the tools and language they are using. However, to people who do not know much about fishing, like me, could get confused, and not completely follow what they are talking about. For example on page, when they describe the work that is done on the boat: ¿¿Then the engine has to be overhauled: Change the belts and filters, check the oil, fill the hydraulics, clean the injectors, clean the plugs, test the generators¿.¿ To people who do not know this vocabulary, the plot of the story, or what is going on during the story might confuse the readers. Especially, when the storm hits, there is fast paced coverage of what is happening, and the tools the crew is using to make the boat safe, or to save someone is crucial to understanding the story. However, if one could find out about the fishing vocabulary, this book could be for anyone who likes suspense, or action novels. The rating that I would give this book, on a scale from one to ten, is a 7. This is because, although the book had an interesting and action packed plot, the way it was written was often confusing, and jumping from one topic to another.

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