Summary and book reviews of The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger

The Perfect Storm

A True Story of Men Against the Sea

By Sebastian Junger

The Perfect Storm
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  • Hardcover: Jun 2000,
    256 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 1998,
    301 pages.

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Book Summary

October 1991. It was "the perfect storm"--a tempest that may happen only once in a century--a nor'easter created by so rare a combination of factors that it could not possibly have been worse. Creating waves ten stories high and winds of 120 miles an hour, the storm whipped the sea to inconceivable levels few people on Earth have ever witnessed. Few, except the six-man crew of the Andrea Gail, a commercial fishing boat tragically headed towards its hellish center.

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...

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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 ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews
Publishers 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.

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.

Newsweek - David Gates

As with any true-adventure story, you wonder if you ought to be getting such a bang out of real people's real suffering. But in The Perfect Storm, we're sharers, not voyeurs. The book is a humanizing reminder that we, too, could -- probably will -- be called on to bear more than we could possibly imagine.

Entertainment Weekly

Guaranteed to blow readers away...A+.

Time Magazine - John Snow

What gives his narration its blood and bones, however, is the fine, boozy picture he sketches of the fishermen's bars of Gloucester, Mass., the Andrea Gail's home port. For the younger fishermen, the bars are home and family in the short weeks between the month-long voyages to the Grand Banks. They make good money, $4,000 or $5,000 a trip, and buy a lot of drinks. . . . The book's epigraph, from Sir Walter Scott, has it right 'It's no fish ye're buying, it's men's lives.'

Boston Globe

Mesmerizing....Packs an emotional wallop.

Reader Reviews
Christian

The Perfect Storm
I had to read this book over the summer for the summer reading list and I really didn't find it that interesting. To be honest, until I saw the movie I didn't really understand it.

Bryan

The Perfect Storm
Sebastian Junger has made this book thrilling and captivating to read. It pulls you in and doesn't let go until the ride is over. He makes you feel as if you are there with the fishermen at sea. Also very dramatic the way the story is told. Two ...   Read More

kerri

the book that sunk
Now let me start off by saying that I am a 16 year old girl, who had to read this book for English class. This is not the best way to start off with a book. even thought i love to read, the perfect storm held no interest for me. My group and I all ...   Read More

Paul

That was a great book. I recommend it to anyone who want to hear a good story.

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