Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916
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Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  2,087 ratings  ·  328 reviews
Pulitzer Prize nominee Capuzzo brilliantly recreates the summer of 1916, when a rogue great white shark attacked swimmers along the New Jersey shore, triggering mass hysteria and launching the most extensive shark hunt in history.
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Published February 1st 2007 by Audio Bookshelf (first published January 1st 2001)
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another shark week float!

in 1916, fish eat you!!

every august, i get totally amped for shark week. and yet, i have not seen jaws since i was seven. (although i have seen open water both one and two. skip the second one - it is a complete waste of time). but the events in this book are the ones that inspired the movie jaws, so it is particularly awesome.


sharks are the coolest of all apex predators. they will just bump you with their nose to see what you are and if you are delicious, th...more
What makes this book particularly interesting is the period detail: the mores, the social habits, life ( at least along the eastern seaboard among the fairly wealthy.) The author follows the shark as it meanders up the coast ( something that annoyed me was attribution of motivation to the shark, but a minor quibble) and the reactions from the local populace (the general feeling was that the attacks were the work of killer whales and that sharks did not attack people.)

Shark attacks began to occur...more
I don’t care what my book club said about this being boring, or over-written, or stilted, or containing information no one cares about.

I loved it.

The author (who clearly was paid by the word, if his extensive "sharks-eye view" vignettes are anything to go by) does a fantastic job of setting you in the mindset of the people of the time period, when mankind had Conquered the Natural World through Science. Ocean swimming had just started taking off—those rebellious kids, going into the water in s...more
A decent but unspectacular account of the 1916 shark attacks off the Jersey Shore, which served as the inspiration for Jaws. The book is slow to get going as Capuzzo attempts to paint a picture of life in the Eastern United States in the teens, a task with which I felt he had only limited success. Clearly a lot of research went into this account, and Capuzzo provides a lot of detail, but he never really makes the past come alive like, for example, E.L. Doctorow does in Ragtime. Neither are th...more
'Aussie Rick'
I have just finished reading Close to Shore, it took just two days to read which is an indication of how good the story is and not that it's a short book. The author, Michael Capuzzo tells the horrifying story of how a rogue shark took a number of innocent lives in the United States back in 1916. The narrative runs for 298 pages and although it may appear to start off sluggish when the book begins with the lead up to the first attack it becomes hard to put down.

Some reviews have mentioned that t...more
An exhaustively researched reconstruction of the 1916 Jersey Shore shark attacks that served as the basis for Jaws, Michael Capuzzo's Close to Shore is a tremendous achievement of historical journalism that is somewhat undermined by its stiflingly repetitive narrative style. Reading Capuzzo's "Sources and Acknowledgements" drives home his formidable journalistic chops. The guy, if he's too be believed (and I think he is), read every page of the Penn University student newspaper during the years...more
Jeremy Forstadt
"The most frightening animal on earth"

Michael Capuzzo has the soul of a novelist; this is not only evident in the dramatic episode which forms the prologue of CLOSE TO SHORE, but also in the flowery and descriptive narrative which occurs in abundance throughout the rest of the book. Based around (and one might be tempted at times to add "loosely" here) a series of shark attacks which plagued the New Jersey shoreline in the summer of 1916, CLOSE TO SHORE is as much a history of the Edwardian Era...more
Bryce Holt
I like era stories; when the spirit of a times is observed in relation to an overwhelming and seemingly daunting struggle (whether it be terror, technology or societal growing pains...). That said, when I checked out this audiobook from the library, I returned it within two days.

Someone else I know said they loved this book and thought I was crazy for not giving it more of a chance, but what a disappointment. Not quite to the level where it is 1 star trash (that is a place where Clive Cussler a...more
Mar 05, 2008 stephanie rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone who wants good cultural history and is willing to ignore obvious bio falsities
Recommended to stephanie by: leigh.
sharks and history and the jersey shore.

yeah, so. it's an excellent account of america on the east coast during the summer of 1916.

it totally bites ass as a story of sharks. the biology is all wrong, the "theory" he puts forth as he writes from the perspective of the shark, who was probably born off montauk in 1908 (WTF?!), just makes me cringe. it's also telling how he really only likes this one shark dude, burgess, and uses him the most. because man, talk about loads of conflicting evidence...more
YIKES! True accounts of a "Great White" that terrorizes the Jersey shore the summer of 1916 with a true hero in Stanley Fisher. So amazing, his courage, as he tries to free young Lester Stilwell from the mouth of a shark!

Many interesting facts about sharks; one I particularly remember is that their ability to smell is more sensitive than a hunting dog, and they can detect one part blood in ONE MILLION parts of water.

Loved the descriptions of dress codes of the time.

Interesting and horrific read....more
This book had too much period detail for me. I like to learn about the setting of the time period and the culture the people of the time are coming from, but this book had pages of detail that just didn't interest me. The background often seemed more like the foreground, with the main story just popping up every now and then. This also meant that the whole work felt kind of disjointed and choppy. If you read this book, prepare to be in the middle of a shark attack scene and then suddenly be read...more
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Since this doesn't rise to the level of Sherman's collected wisdom, I can really only offer up 2 1/2 stars. This was a breeze to read (once getting past the author's tendency toward hyperbole and nonfictional purple prose), but is a bit tricky to review in light of how derivative it is. There's no way to shake the sense that this entire book has been done before, and better.

Desperately seeking a riveting nonfiction adventure that will teach you a little something about great white s...more
having grown up captivated by tales of the infamous jersey shore shark attacks, i'd been looking forward to reading this book for some time. close to shore recounts the two weeks in july of 1916 when five swimmers off the new jersey coast were viciously attacked. it is believed to have been the result of a single great white shark (though some maintain it may have been a bull shark). of the five attacked, four died from their injuries. two of the deaths came of an attack and failed rescue that a...more
This book was a thrilling read. The author had some good subject matter to work with -- a terrifying string of fatal shark attacks along the New Jersey shore in the early 20th century -- but even so, he wrote it very well. It's the sort of story that you read with partial horror and partial fascination, and the sensational nature of the events makes it hard to look away. If it were fiction, it wouldn't be the least bit believable.

Part of the story revolves around the unsettled debate over exact...more
I zipped through this in less than a day, I couldn't put it down - which I guess is the mark of a good book. It's about the 1916 shark attacks off the coast of New Jersey that gripped the entire United States and were the inspiration for Peter Benchley's Jaws. It starts quite slowly, more than a quarter of the book goes by before the first attack, but it's very good at 'setting the scene', so to speak. The actual exploration of the attacks is very well-written, dramatic and graphic, but it works...more
A fascinating study of a series of shark attacks that occurred off the Jersey Shore in 1916. There's enough action and tension in this narrative to satisfy fans of "Jaws," but Capuzzo's book is almost more interesting for his thorough description of the social mores of the time -- swimming and sunbathing on beaches was quite a new fad. I also found it interesting because of the location; one of the victims lived in a house in Philadelphia not four blocks from where I live now. My only wish is th...more
Watervliet Public
August may be coming to an end but readers might still want to read a true story that is the ultimate summer beach read. Close to Shore by Michael Capuzzo is a relatively breezy non-fiction book about a series of shark attacks which occured in New Jersey in 1916. A large part of the book's appeal is it's emphasis on evoking nostalgia for a time that readers will be too young to remember. The book accomplishes this feat through its intimate descriptions of places and events which were typical dur...more
Capuzzo brings alive the landscape of 1916 for the reader in this true account of the Shark Attacks that would later become the inspiration for Jaws and capture the imagination of a nation.

Rather than only focus on the gory details of the attack, Capuzzo brings alive the time period, the characters involved, and explains some of the reactions that we now, nearly a century later, may have found puzzling.

This book proved to be entertaining as well as well researched and written.
Every year I tune into SHARK WEEK on Discovery and as of late I've been pretty damn disappointed with the programming. Sure, that fake documentary about Submarine Shark was super fun to watch with David while drinking copious amounts of wine (my shark puppet Quint made a cameo on social media that night), but I hated the fact that it was just one big lie with a few shark facts sprinkled inside of it. Shark Week has been like this awhile, and I remember that one year they did a docu-style movie a...more
Thoroughly enjoyed the book. Born and raised in NJ I am familiar with the towns mentioned in the book as well as Matawan Creek and this just added too the drama! I really felt for the victims and their families. Seeing the creek from the Garden State Parkway it's hard to believe the shark swam so far inland to where the attacks occurred!
Talk about close to home. In "Close To Shore" (2001), Michael Capuzzo describes the panic that ensued when a rogue great white shark killed four people and seriously injured one more in early July, 1916. The second victim was devoured in the surf of Spring Lake NJ, a town two miles from me. My wife and I routinely take walks on the beach there.

Capuzzo has a solid sense of pace. His chapters toggle between those devoted to the era and people who lived or vacationed in the three NJ towns where the...more
enjoyed this book the true story that inspired Peter Benchley's Jaws . Good historical details of the era, victims, and attacks, a bit wordy at times - do not read this if you plan on going in the ocean anytime soon.
I was watching shark week on Discovery Channel this week and remembered reading this book. It was very good - like watching an action movie. Not a good read for a beach vacation. ;)
Great, fun read. Loved the description of the time period and setting the tone for twelve days of terror at the Jersey shore. No, I will not be going into the ocean this summer.
I saw this book as I was scanning over my school's library towards the end of the school year last year, and I was immediately intrigued by the cover (which I love, by the way). I find sharks and ships and most anything about the ocean interesting, so I immediately wanted to read it. However, the end of the school year was approaching so I tucked this book away in my "to-read" pile and waited.

The school year has started up again and this was my first pick that I knew I wanted to read when I was...more
Walt Trizna
A well-written history of a wave of shark attacks around New Jersey in 1916.
What I found extremely interesting is how localized knowledge was back then. It was not know if sharks would attack man by experts around New Jersey, or if their jaws were strong enough to cause damage. These facts were known in other parts of the world but this knowledge was not communicated until it was requested. This really brings home how much we take today's easy access to information for granted.
A worthwhile read.
I wish I could give this 3.5 stars, but alas, no. This is one of those novels that engages the human interest. Much as none of us want to experience a traumatic event ourselves--be it a car accident, tornado, or shark attack--there is something wholly human about wondering. Rest assured, if you find yourself being attacked by a shark tomorrow, apparently you will feel no pain. If you would care to avoid a shark attack you should not swim with a dog, avoid dark blue or black swimsuits, remain in...more
Richie Partington
23 July 2003 CLOSE TO SHORE: THE TERRIFYING SHARK ATTACKS OF 1916 by Michael Capuzzo, Crown Publishers, April 2003, ISBN 0-375-82231-3

The cover of CLOSE TO SHORE sports a photograph of a face that only a mother could love. But as we soon discover by diving into this gripping combination of history and science, such maternal "love" is not forthcoming when it comes to Carcharodon carcharias, the great white shark:

"The shark shared the womb with eight to ten other pups, and during gestation, the sh...more
A few days before this book arrived in the mail from another BookCrosser, my sister-in-law and I were looking through some old photos from my father's side of the family. She was in search of figuring out from which grandparent her darling little boy has inherited his features. I was along for the ride. We stumbled upon these pictures of my father's parents Rae and Joe at the beach before my father was conceived, but after they were married...which puts it around 1916-1918. They lived in the Bro...more
This review is of the book entitled Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark attacks of 1916 by Michael Capuzzo. This book is about an ordinary summer on the shores of New Jersey and stories of shark attacks in great detail from start to finish. A great thing about this book is that it isn’t just shark stories but there are also some scientist studies and conclusions explaining why these shark attacks occurred.

According to his web site on his novel Michael Capuzzo was nominated for the Pulitzer Pri...more
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Michael Capuzzo is a syndicated animal columnist and author of "Wild Things". Formerly a feature writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Miami Herald, Capuzzo has written for Esquire, Life, and Sports Illustrated. His numerous awards include the National Headliner Award and his animal stories have been honored by the ASPCA and American Humane Association. He lives in Wenonah, New Jersey.

A four-ti...more
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“Exactly what the great white eats in an emergency is a mystery ichthyologists solved by the late twentieth century after decades of investigation: whatever it wishes.” 1 likes
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