Most people associate storms and other big weather with death-with the kind of force that makes each of us wonder about life, and time and the nature of our surroundings. Some people go out looking for bad weather or go to places where they're likely to encounter it. Others have the misfortune of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Still, the stories in Storm have more to say than that. They tell us about what happens when people find that treacherous weather-or when it finds them-and we are reminded of ...
Most people associate storms and other big weather with death-with the kind of force that makes each of us wonder about life, and time and the nature of our surroundings. Some people go out looking for bad weather or go to places where they're likely to encounter it. Others have the misfortune of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Still, the stories in Storm have more to say than that. They tell us about what happens when people find that treacherous weather-or when it finds them-and we are reminded of the fragility of life, the capriciousness of Nature's will, and how little we can do when both cross paths.
Clint Willis has been a climber and an armchair mountaineer since he was ten years old. His writing about technology, finance and the outdoors has appeared in more than 100 publications, including Men's Journal, Outside, Rock & Ice and The New York Times, and he is a contributing editor of Forbes ASAP and Worth magazines. He lives with his wife and two sons in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
The Adrenaline Books imprint always suggests exciting tales of derring-do, and this title is no exception. Series editor Clint Willis is experienced in selecting the most stirring stories from fiction and nonfiction of people who find themselves confronted with the most hopeless odds that nature can arrange for the unwary and the unlucky. As the title suggests, this collection involves storms on land and at sea. Other series titles feature mountains and avalanches, ocean adventure, and even outright murder and madness. However lurid the book's premise might sound, Willis chooses his selections carefully from the works of authors both vintage and new, well known and obscure. A mellow Leo Tolstoy story about an existential storm on the Russian steppe, for example, stands next to a maritime yarn by Ernest K. Gann. An anecdote about Richard Byrd's experiences in spending an Antarctic winter alone early in the century is followed by a reminiscence of David Hays, author of the recently published My Old Man and the Sea. A number of the writers here are familiar, but Willis has chosen none of the old chestnuts. Jack London's name on a list of survival stories inevitably brings to mind his classic "To Build a Fire," but instead the editor offers London's spellbinding "The House of Mapuhi." In short, no matter how jaded a reader might be, he or she is assured of several evenings' worth of good entertainment. High school students will find it enticing. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. Publishers Group West/Thunder's Mouth Press, 363p, illus, 23cm, 00-108282, $16.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Raymond L. Puffer, Ph.D.;Historian, Edwards Air Force Base, CA, March 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 2)
Explore is a collection of firsthand accounts from some of the world's boldest explorers, men and women who encounter cannibals, disease, starvation, and storms while searching for adventure. From their first-person perspectives, the stories provide an immediacy that accentuates the drama and excitement of contact with the unknown. Exotic locales include the mountains of the Himalayas, the jungles of New Guinea, and archaeological ruins in Peru. This particular set is a little less exciting and chilling than the others, probably because some of the tales are actually rather humorous and a bit light-hearted, but then not all exploration is required to be life-threatening. Selections such as "An Evening Among Headhunters" and "The Indian Alps and How We Crossed Them" are vivid enough to have any listener wonder what makes some people seek out such difficult, treacherous, and uncomfortable experiences while at the same time admire their courage and curiosity. The readers, Ann Flosnik and others, give credible performances. Quirky and unusual, this is recommended for public libraries with audio collections and anyone who follows this series. Who survives and why is the theme of Rescue, a compilation of gripping stories that capture the drama and danger of what happens when things go wrong in some of the world's most dangerous places. The Grand Tetons, a remote lake in northern Quebec, and the Labrador coast are the backdrop for heroic rescue attempts fraught with suspense. Experience and reputation are not guarantees that someone will survive either physical accidents or Mother Nature's caprices; rather, it is common sense, ingenuity, and persistence that seem to ensure survival. Even more inspiring are the courageous actions of those people who set out to rescue others at tremendous personal peril. The selections include Jack Olsen's "The Climb Up to Hell" and Geoffrey Childs's "The Flesh Eaters." Editor Miller is an outdoor writer and Outward Bound instructor, suitable credentials for this compilation. The readers, among them Colleen Delany and Nick Sampson, do a good job with this suspenseful collection. Highly recommended for all public libraries. Storm is a collection of stories that pit men and women against the strength of nature, with anyone's guess as to whom will survive. The recurring theme is that some adventurers seek treacherous weather conditions, while other people are simply caught in the wrong place at a very wrong time. Somewhat disappointing inclusions in this anthology are Sebastian Junger's "The Storm" (the basis for his book The Perfect Storm) and "Sheer Will," an account of Beck Weathers's miraculous survival (although twice left for dead) of the tragic Mount Everest climb in May 1996. One of the most powerful stories is John Muir's "A Wind Storm in the Forest," both poetic in the beauty of his descriptions and also terrifying in its portrayal of the power and strength of wind alone. While not nearly as compelling overall as other titles in this series, such as Epic, this is still recommended for public libraries. Gloria Maxwell, Penn Valley Community Coll., Kansas City, MO Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
With his hair-raising and enthralling true adventure story, the blockbuster The Perfect Storm, renowned investigative journalist Sebastian Junger chronicled a story of heroism and tragedy wrought by a tropical storm while single-handedly reviving a new genre: the true-life disaster tale. His latest, A Death in Belmont, investigates his family's eerie connection to the Boston Strangler murders.
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.