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On the Edge of Survival: A Shipwreck, a Raging Storm, and the Harrowing Alaskan Rescue That Became a Legend
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On the Edge of Survival: A Shipwreck, a Raging Storm, and the Harrowing Alaskan Rescue That Became a Legend

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  246 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
From the acclaimed author whose beloved books inspired the hit television show, The Deadliest Catch, comes a thrilling true adventure tale in the Alaskan seas

A Malaysian cargo ship on its way from Seattle, Washington to China ran aground off the coast of western Alaska’s Aleutian Islands on December 8, 2004 during a brutal storm, leading to one of the most incredible Coas
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by St. Martin's Press (first published September 15th 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nov 26, 2016 Kristel rated it liked it
This is nonfiction of Malaysian-registered Panamax bulk cargo ship chartered by the IMC Group that ran aground off Unalaska Island in western Alaska's Aleutian Islands on 8 December 2004 after its engine failed and the rescue by the U.S. Coast Guard. It was a disaster that I confess to not knowing about. I enjoyed this quick audio. These pilots and the rescue swimmer did an extraordinary job of rescuing men who were not cooperative in the efforts and they all acknowledged that it was providence ...more
I was so engrossed in this book that I read it in one day!! Amazing g story from start to finish.
Dec 02, 2014 Angela rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2014
Wow this was one exciting book. I was kept on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Written by Spike Walker, who also brought us the books that inspired the highly popular television show "Deadliest Catch", this book does not disappoint. I've found that I like certain types of non-fiction books more than others and books about life on the sea are some of the best I've ever encountered. And the fact that this book is about events that took place in Alaska makes it even better. I'm sort of pa ...more
Dustin Lonero
Dec 16, 2016 Dustin Lonero rated it really liked it
Best page-turning novel I've ever read. I was really blown away by this narrative. Highly recommended.
Sep 10, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies, 2012
Quick, exciting read by the same guy who developed the series The Deadliest Catch. In December 2004, a cargo ship--the Selendang Aye--stalls and in rough seas off the cost of Alaska. The US Coast Guard scrambles to off load the crew of 18, but rogue wave crashes against the foundering ship and the spray takes out one of the HH-J60 helicopters with its crew of 3 and 10 passengers. All three crew members are plucked from the icy water by a second, waiting helicopter, HH-65B. But the captain and on ...more
Sheri faulk
Dec 15, 2014 Sheri faulk rated it really liked it
Great true story:
Walker mines familiar territory here with this detailed look into the grounding of a freighter on the Aleutian Islands in 2004. Through multiple interviews with the Coast Guard personnel involved, he provides a minute-by-minute account of the rescue mission that was compounded when a USCG helicopter was hit by a rogue wave, sending it into frigid waters. While readers will not find much nuance here and the dialogue sometimes falls into hyperbole, Deadliest Catch fans will apprec
Apr 26, 2011 Kerry rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As much as I wanted to like this book, it didn't happen. It was a chore to finish. There were two things that made it difficult to like. First, Spike kept rehashing how dramatic the storm was from each of the 10 major characters viewpoint, which didn't add anything. It quickly became "Yea, yeah, I know the storm is scary." And then unfortunately his descriptions of each character left them flat on the paper, they didn't spring to life. I had to try and memorize a name with a job duty because he ...more
Seth Pierce
Aug 11, 2014 Seth Pierce rated it it was ok
The rescue story is incredible, however the writing isn't. That isn't to say it is terrible, but many times I found an awkward sentence, or cliche, that took the energy out of the narrative. That being said, any story featuring waves large enough to knock helicopters out of the sky is worth a read. I do agree also with some other reviewers, that the author stretched this too much, I think the book could have been half the size and been much better. The crew featured in this book is outstanding a ...more
Sep 12, 2014 Paula rated it it was amazing
A fascinating edge of your seat rescue account that is extremely well written. Kudos to the author for a superior job using descriptive language to maintain the tightrope suspense throughout and make you feel a part of the action. You can almost feel the icy cold water, swirling snow, and looming cliffs. A++

He also provides just enough technical detail and definition so a reader without experience with boats or helicopters can visualize exactly what is happening without getting overly complicat
Sep 22, 2011 Cynthia rated it it was ok
I actually liked the drama that played out in this real life rescue story set on the Alaskan coastline. However, I felt that there simply wasn't enough material for a whole book and that the author had to do some stretching to make it long enough. It would have been better in a compilation of dramatic Coast Guard rescues. I felt like there was a lot of repetition and rehashing of the same sequences. Those men were real heroes that night and the conclusion was a page turner.
Chris Ross
Mar 22, 2012 Chris Ross rated it it was amazing
A truly riveting book! I grew up in a military (Navy) family and have been around planes all of my life and I loved this book. The sequence of events that had to happen for all things in this story is just incredible. There was some serious bad luck over this event. That 3 CG men that survived the crash of their helicopter is amazing in and of itself. This book should be on the list of the great survival books.
Drew Zagorski
Feb 16, 2015 Drew Zagorski rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This book was riveting. The author brings you right into the situation and his narrative reads like a thriller. It gave me a real appreciation for how the service people of the Coast Guard put it on the line every day. That and the power of the sea and Mother Nature. This was a book that was very readable and hard to put down. If you enjoy this type of tale, I also recommend In Harm's Way, the story of the USS Indianapolis during WWII, by Doug Stanton.
Michael Tarpinian
Coast Guard = rock stars. Alaskan Coast Guard helo pilots = The Beatles.

Page turning thriller. Amazing story of the crew rescue of an Indian freighter off Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Twenty saved, only six crew members lost. No Coast Guard personnel lost. The rescue swimmer stayed on deck of the storm tossed, sinking, split-in-half ship with the underdressed Captain for 3 hours.
Aug 24, 2011 Patrick rated it liked it
This is a very interesting rescue story about a cargo ship that is caught in an Alaskan storm out in the Aleutians. The Coast Guard guys are portrayed as very brave and competent. The crew on the cargo ship are less then cooperative, especially the captain, which endangers the life of his crew and the rescuers.
Aug 08, 2011 Alisa rated it liked it
Shelves: readers-choice
This wasn't quite as "on the edge" survival as I was thinking it was going to be. The story basically goes over a very heroic rescue out in the open seas of Alaska. It was definitely geared towards "boating" and there was a lot of technical language, but overall, the rescue truly is heroic and amazing.
Jul 18, 2011 Robyn rated it it was ok
I had a hard time getting into this book. It used a lot of vocabulary that I was not familiar with and that made it hard to follow the story. But by the time they started lifting people off the boat I was hooked and had to finish. Amazing story!
Tommy Owens
Jan 24, 2011 Tommy Owens rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Spike Walker doesn't disappoint with this harrowing tale. I literally could not put it down and read it in a single evening. My only regret is that I bought the Kindle edition. I'd really like to share this book with my fellow seafarers.
Feb 27, 2015 Meg rated it liked it
Great story, other reviews critique the writing as being awkward in places and needing work and I wholeheartedly agree. Please don't let that dissuade you (if you can) the story is interesting, exciting, and amazing.
Jan 07, 2011 Marg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific story of rescue under the worst of conditions. Highly recommend this to anyone interested in ships, the seas, true stories of remarkable people.
Rusty Vaughan
Mar 31, 2014 Rusty Vaughan rated it it was amazing
If you have been to sea, have known the water in any way, you will read cover to cover very quickly and miss the excitement when it is over.
Jan 04, 2013 Marji rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, 2013
The story is amazing, the writing, not as amazing. Add to that a less than inspired narration, since I listened to this book, and I can't give it more than 3 stars. Should have been a 5 star story .
Nov 26, 2011 Annajune rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I liked this. The beginning seemed to have a lot of background info that I didn't feel was needed and made it a little slow but part way through it really picked up and was a compelling book.
Becky Roper
May 21, 2013 Becky Roper rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was the non-fiction story of a shipwreck off the coast of Alaska and the brave Coast Guard rescuers. It was a page-turner, but had lots more detail than I wanted to read.
Feb 06, 2013 Sharon rated it it was ok
An amazing moment in time, but I felt the author missed grabbing the energy and moment. The coast guards were all brave men in an incredible night and day above the wild Bering Sea.
Barbara Kenyon
Barbara Kenyon rated it it was amazing
Nov 01, 2016
William Hurtes
William Hurtes rated it liked it
Apr 10, 2016
Adam Smith
Adam Smith rated it really liked it
Oct 31, 2014
Robert Llewellyn-Jones
Robert Llewellyn-Jones rated it did not like it
Dec 12, 2015
Peter rated it liked it
Jan 15, 2013
Anne Snow Mcndoo
Anne Snow Mcndoo rated it liked it
Oct 05, 2014
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