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The Perfect Storm


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About 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.


Junger, a journalist noted for his adventure stories in magazines such as Outside and Men's Journal, reconstructs here the last moments before the wreck of a swordfish boat during a fierce storm off the coast of Nova Scotia in October 1991. The Andrea Gail was a 70-foot, steel-hulled vessel that fished for swordfish using a 30-mile "longline" with thousands of hooks. Junger provides an excellent account of the fishing industry, detailing various fishing techniques; he also chronicles the rowdy lifestyle of fishermen. He recounts harrowing stories of the search and rescue efforts of other vessels caught in the same storm, including a fascinating look at "rescue swimmers." Although none survived on the Andrea Gail, Junger did extensive interviews with families and friends of the crew to put together a cohesive story that reads like a novel. A good, solid purchase for public libraries.‘John Kenny, San Francisco P.L.

"Every boater is drawn to storm-at-sea stories, and this one beats them all." -- Philadelphia Inquirer "Ferociously dramatic and vividly written... It's an indelible experience." -- Entertainment Weekly "Harrowing, relentless ... and thoroughly enjoyable." -- Kansas City Star "A terrifying, edifying read... Readers ... are first seduced into caring for the book's doomed characters, then compelled to watch them carried into the jaws of a meteorological hell. Junger's compassionate, intelligent voice instructs us effortlessly on the sea life of the sword-fisherman, the physics of a sinking steel ship, and the details of death by drowning." -- Dava Sobel, author of Longitude "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." -- Patrick O'Brian "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." -- Cleveland Plain Dealer "The pages of this book crunch with salt." -- Boating

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. BOMC main selection and QPB selection; Reader's Digest Today's Best Nonfiction selection; first serial to Esquire; $235,000 paperback floor; simultaneous Random House Audio; British rights: Fourth Estate. (May)

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 (Nov.)

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