Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Coming Back Alive: The True Story of the Most Harrowing Search and Rescue Mission Ever Attempted on Alaska's High Seas” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
Coming Back Alive: The...
Spike Walker
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Coming Back Alive: The True Story of the Most Harrowing Search and Rescue Mission Ever Attempted on Alaska's High Seas

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  149 ratings  ·  16 reviews
When the fishing vessel La Conte sinks suddenly at night in one-hundred-mile-per-hour winds and record ninety-foot seas during a savage storm in January 1998, her five crewmen are left to drift without a life raft in the freezing Alaskan waters and survive as best they can.

One hundred fifty miles away, in Sitka, Alaska, an H-60 Jayhawk helicopter lifts off from America's m
ebook, 320 pages
Published October 11th 2002 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2001)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Coming Back Alive, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Coming Back Alive

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 316)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
*** Contains multiple spoilers. ** Walker celebrates the Coast Guard SAR (Search and Rescue — not to be confused with SARS) teams that operate in Alaska's forbidding winters. These people risk their lives to save those who have usually made some really dumb decisions. Flying at any time in Alaska is difficult because of the terrain and sudden weather changes, but virtually no one flies at night. SAR teams are often called out at night and usually in the worst weather. Sensory deprivation is comm ...more
One major survival story, wrapped up with a couple of smaller ones. It begins with an old Coast Guard saying: "You have to go out, but you don't necessarily have to come back." Think of it as basically being about what happens when Deadliest Catch goes really, really wrong. And when things go badly, the Coast Guard is there. Well written, and with some interesting vignettes about life along the coast of southeastern Alaska.
Judy Churchill
Horrifying and beyond imagination. I couldn't put this real life Alaska ocean rescue story down. Being a pilot, I understood viscerally that the conditions were way below flying weather. I found myself tense along with the pilots trying to make the rescue. There is no doubt that we have heroes among us - those who go beyond all reasonable expectations to save another human being. This was well written and extremely well researched which undoubtedly led to its complete credibility. It's non-ficti ...more
I'll start by saying this is better than 'A Perfect Storm'. Think of this book as 'Into (very) Cold Water' or 'Into Gale Force Winds' or both.

The author does a good job of grabbing you with a rescue mission in the first chapter, then, lays the background of the Coast Guard's air-sea rescue units. Equal attention is paid to the fishing culture of Alaska. Before you are too lulled by the scene setting, Walker throws in another harrowing rescue mission before concluding the first half of the book.
Val Wilkerson
Wow...this is the true story about a search and rescue in Alaska by the Coast Guard out of Sitka Alaska. I have lived in Juneau alaska and spent several months in Sitka so I know what the weather can be like. This Coast Guard Rescue story had my heart beating for sure. These guys are right up there with navy seals in my book. I was also pleased at the end of the book to see my dear friends in Juneau, Roger and Betty Stidolph mentioned.
Fast paced book, kept my interest throughout.
Quick read. Jaw-dropping accounts of emergency rescues in Southeast Alaska. Especially relevant for me since I visited nearly every location mentioned in the book, by boat during this summer (2008).

My dad picked this book as part of our ongoing father/son book club while we were up in Alaska together and it was a page-turner. Highly recommended for anyone who has spent time in Alaska or who is at all fascinated by the last great frontier.
This is a harrowing story of a death-defying rescue by the Coast Guard of a fishing boat crew who deliberately took excessive risks against Nature, and lost the bet. They had absolutely no business being there in that place at that time in their substandard boat.

The Coast Guard crews, 13 men and three helicopters, put their lives at risk to go for these foolish fishermen, and almost made their own wives into widows, and children orphans.
Sean Hopkins
Enjoyable story of the rescue of the La Conte by the Coast Guard during a fierce Alaska storm in January of 1998. The numerous Coast Guard members involved in the dangerous rescue mission demonsrated a complete willingness to risk their lives to rescue the crew as the floated in freezing waters with 100 foot waver and 100 mph winds.
Chris Seals
I bought this book because I enjoyed Spike Walker's "Working on the Edge" so much. I wasn't disappointed with the writing here either.
Heart breaking and staggering in the vastness of the struggles that these brave men and women face every day of their lives.
Katie O'Farrell
it was a really good book . It taught me that you never really know how strong you are until you need all your strength .
Another great book by Spike. Great escapes from peril on the open sea.
Good true story of USCG rescue at sea in Alaska
Rita Jean
True stories of people at sea.
Martha Randall
Definitely a good read!
Lori Conner
Lori Conner marked it as to-read
Aug 25, 2015
Diane marked it as to-read
Aug 24, 2015
Sheldon marked it as to-read
Aug 24, 2015
Glenda marked it as to-read
Jul 06, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do
  • Deadliest Sea: The Untold Story Behind the Greatest Rescue in Coast Guard History
  • Time Bandit: Two Brothers, the Bering Sea, and One of the World's Deadliest Jobs
  • North by Northwestern: A Seafaring Family on Deadly Alaskan Waters
  • The Last Run: A true story of rescue and redemption on the Alaska seas
  • Giving the Finger: Risking It All to Fish the World's Deadliest Sea
  • The Proving Ground: The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race
  • Simple Courage: A True Story of Peril on the Sea
  • Rescue Warriors: The U.S. Coast Guard, America's Forgotten Heroes
  • At the Mercy of the Sea: The True Story of Three Sailors in a Caribbean Hurricane
  • Denali's Howl: The Deadliest Climbing Disaster on America's Wildest Peak
  • Back To The Wild
  • Wreck of the Medusa: The Tragic Story of the Death Raft
  • Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald
  • Race Across Alaska: First Woman to Win the Iditarod Tells Her Story
  • The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island
  • Deep Descent: Adventure and Death Diving the Andrea Doria
  • American Gunfight
Working on the Edge: Surviving In the World's Most Dangerous Profession: King Crab Fishing on Alaska's High Seas On the Edge of Survival: A Shipwreck, a Raging Storm, and the Harrowing Alaskan Rescue That Became a Legend Nights of Ice: True Stories of Disaster and Survival on Alaska's High Seas Alaska: Tales of Adventure from the Last Frontier

Share This Book