It Was The Storm Of The Century, A Tempest Created By So Rare A Combination Of Factors That Meteorologists Deemed It The Perfect StormWhen It Struck In October There Was Virtually No Warning She S Comin On, Boys, And She S Comin On Strong, Radioed Captain Billy Tyne Of The Andrea Gail From Off The Coast Of Nova Scotia Soon Afterward, The Boat And Its Crew Of Six Disappeared Without A Trace The Perfect Storm Is A Real Life Thriller, A Stark And Compelling Journey Into The Dark Heart Of Nature That Leaves Listeners With A Breathless Sense Of What It Feels Like To Be Caught, Helpless, In The Grip Of A Force Beyond Understanding Or Control How do men act on a sinking ship Do they hold each other Do they pass around the whisky Do they cry This is the heartbreaking true account of the last moments of those aboard the fateful last voyage of the Andrea Gail, the swordfish boat caught in the heart of the ocean during one of the worst storms to hit the North American eastern seaboard, in October 1991.This book was of a factual account, attempting to recreate the last days and the possible thoughts and actions of those who sadly lost their lives, rather than an attempt to fictionalize their story Junger never lets his reader forget that this is a true life description achieving this with passages from meteorologists, other fishermen and the loved ones left to mourn those lost at sea Whilst being dense in the science of storms and the process of life on board a fishing schooner, it is also thick with tragedy and truly does justice to the lost men who can now never be forgotten. This is a powerful and heart wrenching true story Many people are familiar with the movie I saw it at the theater when it first came out in 2000 But, it wasn t until now that I finally read it.It is the story of many different people and how they were affected by the Perfect Storm also known as The No Name Storm and the Halloween Gale in the North Atlantic during Halloween week in 1991 The primary story follows the crew of the Andrea Gail The early part of the book is reminiscent of Moby Dick as you learn the ins and outs of sword fishing During this point it runs a fine line between being fascinating or dragging Luckily, it is nowhere near as long as Moby Dick so it serves as a nice introduction to the atmosphere of the story.Then the storm hits During the storm part of the book there are several tales of heroic rescues and tragic losses While the focus at first is on the Andrea Gail, there are many other interesting stories from the North Atlantic.If you like non fiction, harrowing tales of nature s wrath, and stories about people pushed to the very limits of endurance, then I highly recommend this book Just be sure to bring along your Dramamine There was no God to turn to for mercy There was no government to provide order Civilization was ancient history Inside the ship, as the heel increased, even the most primitive social organization, the human chain, crumbled apart Love only slowed people down A pitiless clock was running The ocean was completely in control William Langewiesche, A Sea Story On October 28, 1991, the fishing vessel Andrea Gail and her crew of six men disappeared off the Grand Banks in a tremendous storm created byetc., etc By now, everyone knows the story of this ill fated little boat, her tiny crew, and the massive storm that swallowed them whole The book was a bestseller the instant it came out A blockbuster movie followed The phrase a perfect storm is the most overused shorthand phrase in our culture for awhile I thought it might be overtaken by Wall Street verses Main Street, but alas, the election is over, and storms without imperfection are back in vogue Once upon a time, though, before George Clooney grew a great beard and drove his boat up a mountain sized CGI wave, A Perfect Storm was simply a sharp bit of journalism Sebastian Junger found a newspaper clipping about the Andrea Gail s fate, went to Gloucester with pen and pad, and delved into the lives of her crew, entering a normally taciturn and reticent community to show us their lives before their deaths It s worth remembering that Junger s book came out long before the History Channel abdicated it s purported mission to bring us Ice Road Truckers and Axe Men and before the Discovery Channel presented Swamp Loggers and Heli Loggers and yes, Deadliest Catch Nowadays, celebration of blue collar life is a cultural norm it wasn t always that way Almost from the first sentences, Junger who has now morphed into a semi self righteous, self styled Homer of Afghanistan shows he has an excellent grasp of place T he smell of the ocean is so strongit 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 irridescent jelly fish.The Discovery Channel s Deadliest Catch of which I am a huge fan has turned a spotlight on the lives of fishermen We see these grizzled tough guys in all their rotgut swilling, chain smoking, foul mouthed glory At the time this was written, though, Junger s work was revelatory He presented them as iconoclasts men who lived entirely in moments They could go out on a boat for a couple of weeks, make a big score, blow thousands of dollars in a couple days, and go right back out on the ocean to do it again Junger finds a way to celebrate these lives without neglecting the broken marriages, child support orders, and limited windows within which these men could succeed After introducing us to the doomed Billy Tyne, Michael Moran, Dale Murphy, Alfred Pierre, Bobby Shatford, and David Sullivan Junger sets out to sea This is where things could have gotten very tricky See, very little is known about what happened to the Andrea Gail There were no survivors No mayday calls The EPIRBs never activated All we have is an empty ocean and miles to fill with supposition There are only two ways to write this story First, Junger could have turned it into a fascinating long form article in the New Yorker, Harpers, or The Atlantic Or two, he could write a book in which the central event can only be hypothesized Junger chose the latter, and having read many disaster books since, I can see he chose a route fraught with peril relative to the craft of writing, of course With so little upon which to hang the central narrative, Junger has no choice but to pad the book with digressions and to shift the story away from the Andrea Gail and to other, luckier boats caught in the storm Done poorly, this tact would have left me resentful that I d been sold a bill of goods Somehow, though, he pulls it off This is kind of a surprise Something about Sebastian Junger just calls out to be disliked Maybe it s his chiseled jaw, perfectly symmetrical face, and artfully cultivated five o clock shadow Maybe it s the scent of young French nobleman that he gives off a willingness to thrust himself into new worlds with both curiosity and entitlement this is, unfortunately, a strong undercurrent in his flat collection of stories entitled Fire, a book notable today for a cameo made by former Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Massoud, whose assassination by al Qaida was prepatory to the 9 11 attacks Junger is both everyman and know it all He can swill Wild Turkey while still cogitating on fluid dynamics, long line fishing, and the science of drowning I imagine him a little bit like Cliff Clavin, sitting at the end of the bar, half in the bag, telling all the neighborhood drunks that their deeply held views about Afghanistan are ill conceived Except unlike Cliff, Junger is probably right, which makes him a little less likeable His saving grace is his ability to write Like the best journalists, Junger writes clearly, includes telling details, and manages to convey difficult concepts like the physics of waves in a way that makes you feel better because you can understand them He also knows all the emotional beats, and hits every one Junger knows just where to place a single, short sentence such as no one got off alive in order to induce chills For instance, I ve never forgotten the section of The Perfect Storm that tells you how someone drowns The diving reflexis compounded by the general effect of cold temperature on tissue it preserves it All chemical reactions, and metabolic processes, become honey slow, and the brain can get by on less than half the oxygen it normally requires There are cases of people spending forty or fifty minutes under lake ice and surviving The colder the water, the stronger the diving reflex, and the longer the survival time The crew of the Andrea Gail do not find themselves in particularly cold water, though it may add five or ten minutes to their lives And there is no one around to save them anyway The electrical activity in their brain gets weaker and weaker until, after fifteen or twenty minutes, it ceases altogetherTheories about what happened to the Andrea Gail, no matter how well reasoned and detailed, could not have supported The Perfect Storm in book length There needed to be a B story Here, Junger chooses to highlight the heroics and plight of the Coast Guard s parajumpers, an elite squad of the best swimmers on Earth and also the subject of the Kevin Costner vehicle, The Guardian, which despite Ashton Kutcher s presence, is not nearly as bad as you think These parts of the book are tense, white knuckled, and agonizing, since unlike the foreordained fate of the Andrea Gail s crew, you have no idea who is going to live and who is going to die The Perfect Storm is one of my favorite books It is, as the subheading announces, a story of men against the sea In other words, it s a sea yarn perhaps my favorite yarn genre , and Junger is a great raconteur He pulls together a number of different threads science, literature, the Bible, various sea stories in order to tell a single story it is a bit of audaciousness that pays off I imagine Junger wearing a flannel shirt and sitting at the end of a dark Gloucester bar with smoke stained walls and a swordfish hung over the fireplace He strokes his perfect stubble while sipping Scotch neat Outside, an autumn gale is raging, pelting the windows with rain In the distance, a foghorn sounds mournfully Junger begins to speak in his gruff yet Wesleyan educated voice The story is about men who go out in boats, and about the seemingly infinite sea, which like the Universe never ceases to awe, no matter how small the rest of the world gets the story tells of the power of waves and the dark spray swept terror and the loneliness of death and the men out on the ocean who vanish, and whose lives are memories and whose deaths are mysteries. This book could easily sweep the floor with fictional thriller novels to think that the events in it were true is really frightening But it s not really supposed to be scary It s the story of brave men fighting to survive against a storm that engulfs them, and it s written vividly, with lots of emotion and featuring people who are very memorable after reading about them It s really worth reading, I highly recommend it. All collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it had five thousand years ago Moby Dick I have a special bond with this story My first encounter with The Perfect Storm was through watching the movie I still remember that movie clearly on my mind even though I haven t watched it for a few years now It s even easily in my top ten favorite movies of all time list I simply loved it As a child I had always been terrified of the ocean and all its dangers Strangely though, I was in love with the concept of fishing even though I didn t like fish too much I remember watching the movie as a kid and considering the possibility of becoming a fisherman Yup, I had those daydreams I would wait a decade before I would find out about the book A few weeks ago, I was scouring Rob Ermita s Book Sale, as I always do when I feel the need to read a real book After reading a few books from my Kindle, I d often feel hollow, and I d end up looking for solid, empirical, tree destroying, ink drinking books I was shaken when I first saw the book That one of my favorite stories of all time was a book and I had no idea about it How it was able to elude me all these years remains such a great mystery to me Before we continue on, I feel the need to remind you that this book is not a work of fiction, this is a true story Meteorologists see perfection in strange things, Junger writes, and the meshing of three completely independent weather systems to form a hundred year event is one of them My God, thought Case, this is the perfect storm This powerful book is a chilling, daunting, experience at one of the greatest forces of nature the world has ever seen and the lives of people it had on its mercy To be out at sea in the path of such an event would be a catastrophic experience And so it evidently proved for the six men aboard the Andrea Gail, a 72 foot swordfish boat that disappeared off the coast of Nova Scotia on Oct 28, leaving behind only fuel drums, a propane tank and sundry radio equipment that were found weeks later To dramatize the incredible fury of a severe storm at sea, Junger reconstructs the fatal voyage of the Andrea Gail.How does he manage to do this with no survivors to interview and with no details available about the ship s final hours of existence A good deal is known up to a certain point the layout of the Andrea Gail the routine of a previous outing how the crew members spent their time before leaving Gloucester, Mass., their home port the pressure they were under to fill their hold with swordfish the high risk of injury or death in the business the bad feelings about the coming trip that drove two crew members to walk away before it began.Junger nicely paces his narrative by interrupting it with histories of Gloucester, of the New England fishing industry and its gradual decline, and of the development of long line fishing dragging a 40 mile long monofilament with up to 1,000 baited hooks.He creates a distinct atmosphere when he writes At dinner the crew talk about what men everywhere talk about women, lack of women, kids, sports, horse racing, money, lack of money, work They talk a lot about work they talk about it the way men in prison talk about time Work is what s keeping them from going home, and they all want to go home You can sense the coming storm when he writes The sunset is a bloody rust red on a sharp autumn horizon, and the night comes in fast with a northwest wind and a sky riveted with stars There s no sound but the smack of water on steel and the heavy gargle of the diesel engine For information beyond what is known of the Andrea Gail s destruction, Junger turns to people who had been through similar situations and survived From such interviews he learns what an 80 mile an hour wind sounds like and what it feels like to be tossed by waves 100 feet high.Perhaps most compelling of all, he explains in concrete detail why hurricanes blow, how waves rise, what happens to boats in a storm and the way human beings drown Thus he is able to reconstruct what he calls the zero moment point When drowning, he writes in this frightening chapter, the body could be likened to a crew that resorts to increasingly desperate measures to keep their vessel afloat He concludes, Eventually the last wire has shorted out, the last bit of decking has settled under the water The crew members of the Andrea Gail are dead After this calamity, the narrative of The Perfect Storm abruptly shifts its focus to describe a couple of heart stopping rescue attempts, one of them successful, the other a costly fiasco by pararescue teams from the New York State Air National Guard What is particularly impressive here is the dedication of professional storm watchers to save any human life at sea, no matter what foolishness or bad luck led to the trouble.Despite the upbeat ending of The Perfect Storm, what lingers is a sense of the cruel indifference of nature One chapter s epigraph quotes Moby Dick All collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it had five thousand years ago Even chilling is the lack of closure that the families of the victims experienced Junger writes If the men on the Andrea Gail had simply died, and their bodies were lying in state somewhere, their loved ones could make their goodbyes and get on with their lives But they didn t die, they disappeared off the face of the earth and, strictly speaking, it s just a matter of faith that these men will never return Such faith takes work, it takes effort The people of Gloucester must willfully extract these men from their lives and banish them to another world To have to strive for a belief in death and oblivion a perfect conclusion to The Perfect Storm NY Times Book ReviewThis book is a testament to the nature s power, and it is fitting Awe is all I can use to describe what this fine piece of Journalism offers She s a beautiful lady, one guy said jerking his thumb oceanward out the bar door, but she ll kill ya without a second thought. Perfect, of course, means perfectly disastrous A Nor easter forms when a tropical low meets a Canadian arctic blast, which intensifies the storm and creates a whopper whether in the North Atlantic, off the Northeast US coast, or inland In late October, 1991, a seasonal Nor easter became even powerful by picking up energy from disintegrating Hurricane Grace a Perfect Storm Sebastian Junger s superlative telling of the real life event, which resulted in this 1997 book and the 2000 movie starring George Clooney, reveals the storm in its horrific destruction also the mixed results of rescue efforts that come when governmental resources are stretched a little too far The Perfect Storm A True Story of Men Against the Sea goes into matters that the Clooney film simply couldn t spend much time on, such as the way a private pleasure boat apparently distracted rescue efforts from the fishing boat Andrea Gail, also the extent to which the profit motive endangered the Andrea Gail to a larger extent than was strictly necessary Another factor in the way of update was that the Loran system of ship identification was allowed to die a few years ago, to be replaced by GPS It remains to be seen whether that budget based decision was wise or not What is indisputable is that this is a fine, gripping book, and should be read by those who have seen the movie as well as those who haven t Image The Andrea Gail fishing boat I like Junger s writing style a lot He s very poignant and manages to write in a both matter of factly and emotionally sensitive way at the same time This is the story he could piece together about one particular boat lost at sea, as well as what might have happened to its crew, during one of the worst storms ever recorded He does this by combining very technical know how about fishing and boats with an understanding of the psychology behind men s choices to go out at sea and how they deal with survival and death It is an immensely interesting book for someone like me, who s curious about everything under the sun, but I m guessing it s also valuable to someone who actually is a fisherman, because it s very adamant in offering correct information I totally recommend this. How do men act on a sinking ship Do they hold each other Do they pass around the whisky Do they cry October 1991 It was the perfect storm Most of us have seen the movie I have watched it many times and was inspired to read this book for a reading challenge I found it to be well written, thoughtful, educational, moving and heart breaking The amount of research that went into the writing of this book is impressive Junger did his homework and it shows If you are expecting the book to be like the movie you watched, you will be a little disappointed This book not only introduces you to the doomed men who set sail on the Andrea Gail, it also tells the story of other boaters, their near misses, a helicopter going down, rescues, the dangers of hurricanes, the ships that sunk and the dangers of fishing Fishing continues to be one of the easiest ways in which to die while earning a paycheck This book also educates the reader on swordfish fishing, weather reports, wave heights, the equipment on the Andrea Gail, rogue waves, missing ships, and what happens in your body when you drown Some may find the beginning of the book to be a little dry, but I was fascinated with it Who knew I found fishing and boats so interesting Plus, he is giving us a glimpse into the life of the crew It also feels weird to say that I enjoyed this book which dealt with tragedy I thought it was very well done and told the story of known things that occurred when the crew and their boat went missing We know that the crew did not survive Junger cannot tell us what happened on the Andrea Gail during the storm, but he does give a good account of what happened before, after and what others reported experiencing during the storm Whatever it is, one thing is know for sure Around midnight on October 28th when the storm is at its height off Sable Island something catastrophic happens abroad the Andrea Gail The Crew of the Andrea Gail Frank William Billy Tyne Jr Captain , aged 37Michael Bugsy Moran, aged 36Dale R Murph Murphy, aged 30Alfred Pierre, aged 32 Robert F Bobby Shatford, aged 30David Sully Sullivan, aged 29Tyne s final recorded words were She s comin on, boys, and she s comin on strong He did what ninety percent of us would ve done he battened down the hatches and hung on says Tommy Barrie, captain of the Allision He d been gone well over a month He probably just said, Screw it, we ve had enough of this shit and kept heading home This book is not only about the men who were lost but about those who tried to save them and others It is about their family members, their wives and girlfriends, their town, and the love of the sea On November 6, 1991, Andrea Gail s emergency position indicating radio beacon EPIRB was discovered washed up on the shore of Sable Island in Nova ScotiaFuel drums, a fuel tank, the EPIRB, an empty life raft, and some other flotsam were the only wreckage ever found Taken from Wikipedia I found this book to be fascinating and recommend it to anyone who enjoys books about real events, boating, fishing, etc. A mature hurricane is by far the most powerful event on earth the combined nuclear arsenals of the United States the Soviet Union don t contain enough energy to keep a hurricane going for one day Page 102 I have had The Perfect Storm on my bookcase for quite sometime Near the end of Columbine , the author, Dave Cullen, mentioned that Mr Junger s description of the crew of the Andrea Gail their last hours, was what he strove for when he wrote his book.He said that the way Mr Junger described their drowning prompted him to do justice to each victim at Columbine when he wrote his book so that one sentence made me pick up my copy of The Perfect Storm I am glad that I did.What a read.I could not stop.His descriptions of these men their lives lived on these huge boats was a different world to me.I could not imagine this.He went deep into describing how much goes into these shipping fishing sailing vessels.I have always felt that there is no force greater than a storming sea This book solidifies my view that nothing can contain Mother Nature out upon the ocean.I enjoyed this read as much as I knew the outcome, I kept reading It was also a lesson in nautical history.A lesson in how our armed forces work hand in hand with these seafaring Americans.They roll out at a moments notice risk their own lives and sometimes lose their lives in their attempts I found myself wondering how in the world did 18th 19th century sailors get along Amazing And to read that men still want nothing than to spend months upon months on our dangerous oceans, willfully hoping that if a MAYDAY is sounded, someone will come to their rescue They live on this hope They have to.Reading of the many different rescues, was an eye opener.I, who faithfully watched each shuttle launch still do had no idea that an Air Guard C130 flies down to Florida to watch the launch, and I did not know that an Air Force rescue crew heads out to Africa to cover the rest of the launch s flight into space just in case AMAZING I found this book just an excellent read.I always love reading Sebastian Junger s articles in my monthly magazines he never fails here he goes deep if you excuse the pun You can imagine the lives he enters It is a different world a transitory existence that seems to work for these seaside villages.Men who want no possessions and nothing to hold them down They live for the open seas Men like that still exist.I kept thinking of Herman Melville s Pierre or The Ambiguities for in tremendous extremities human souls are like drowning men well enough they know they are in peril well enough they know the causes of that peril nevertheless the Sea is the Sea these drowning men do drown.
Sebastian Junger is the 1 New York Times bestselling author of War, The Perfect Storm, Fire, and A Death in Belmont Together with Tim Hetherington, he directed the Academy Award nominated film Restrepo, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance He is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and has been awarded a National Magazine Award and an SAIS Novartis Prize for journalism He lives in New
- 227 pages
- The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea
- Sebastian Junger
- 14 July 2019 Sebastian Junger