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Working on the Edge: Surviving In the World's Most Dangerous Profession: King Crab Fishing on Alaska's High Seas
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Working on the Edge: Surviving In the World's Most Dangerous Profession: King Crab Fishing on Alaska's High Seas

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  372 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
No profession pits man against nature more brutally than king crab fishing in the frigid, unpredictable waters of the Bering Sea. The yearly death toll is staggering (forty-two men in 1988 alone); the conditions are beyond most imaginations (90-mph Arctic winds, 25-foot seas, and super-human stretches of on-deck labor); but the payback, if one survives can be tens of thous ...more
ebook, 312 pages
Published March 15th 1993 by St. Martin's Griffin
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Nov 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To maximize the sensation of coldness and wetness while reading Spike Walker's Working on the Edge you should really listen to Ralph Vaughn-Williams Antarctic Symphony. It captures the loneliness, hard work and intense cold of the crab industry off Alaska's Bering Strait shores. Walker's book is about the meteoric rise and precipitous fall of an industry which has an occupational mortality rate 20 times that of the coal mining industry. Working conditions were frightful. Crewmen had to muscle 75 ...more
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bist du es leid Tag ein Tag aus ins Büro zu fahren und den ganzen Tag vor einem Bildschirm zu verbringen? Suchst du das Abenteuer in der Natur? Arbeitest du gerne 80 Stunden in der Woche?

Dann solltest du es mit Krabbenfischerei in Alaska versuchen. Das Wetter ist meistens beschissen. Brutale Winde, Blitzeis und haushohe Wellen sind keine Seltenheit. Auch gestandene Fischer kotzen sich vor Seekrankheit die Seele aus dem Leib. Und jährlich sterben unzählige Menschen bei Arbeitsunfällen und Schiffs
Stephanie Warnement
Before I started reading this book I must admit that I entertained thoughts of some day trying my hand at crab fishing. In fact my boyfriend mentioned off hand that there was a crab boat looking for some crew members in town (Florence, OR) a couple weeks ago. I was perturbed that he hadn't mentioned it earlier because the crab season was already underway and the position was long filled.... Then I picked up this book. Spike Walker writes about his experiences crab fishing out of Kodiak and Dutch ...more
Dec 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spike Walker brought the dangerous seas to life...or death as it were. By the middle of the book it was like Spike and I were sitting at a pub and him telling his story.

Knowing the crab fishing industry was tough did NOTHING to prepare this reader for the seemingly daily struggle for life itself. From trying to obtain a paying jig to live through a sinking ship Spike scared me far from the decks of any such vessel.

The loss of life makes me reconsider my own food-value thoughts. That is, if so
Dec 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Walker's book provides a first-hand insight into the Alaskan crab fishing industry in the late 1970s and early 1980s, long before "The Deadliest Catch" Discovery documentary series. Personal tales are mixed with survival stories from fellow fisherman who crewed other boats during the crabbing seasons. Walker is very likeable and his writing comes across as authentic. Walker doesn't glorify the industry, nor does he exaggerate the heoric stories - he doesn't need to. I'll read more of his books i ...more
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was absolutely riveting!!! Amazing!! I would recommend this book to everyone. I have been a fan of Discovery channel's "Deadliest Catch" since it began airing 4 years ago. This book (like the Deadliest Catch tv show) gives every reader such a respect for the harding working men and women in the Alaskan Bering Sea. I will always gladly pay a high price for crab, knowing exactly how it came to me.
Nov 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He is a great writer and really did his experiences justice with his descriptions. I got a little tired of the constant re-hashing of boats/people going down. I'm more of a -yes stuff happens, but how does it make you FEEL- kinda reader.

It was a good book. I will probably end up reading the rest of his too.
Excellent book. I could tell the great ammount of research that Spike put into his books. The accounts of the fishermen involved are unforgetable.
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't want to write a review cause I already had to write a bunch of stuff about this for school. Basically, it had good writing but I would not recommend this unless you are incredibly interested in king crab fishing in Alaska.
Apr 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think that exactly what you would expect with this book is what you get, except maybe a little higher caliber writing. The author does a pretty good job of not painting a repetitive picture of king crab fishing, which I can imagine was a challenge. The writing is crisp and, where appropriate, suspenseful. A minor complaint is that I wish the editor had been a little more on the ball. Some simple errors I remember were talking about being on the northernmost edge of the ice sheet extending sout ...more
Aug 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Working on the Edge but the book is maybe 100 pages too long. The highlight of the book was the incredible survival stories of other crab fishermen whose ships went down or were abandoned. The book is more or less divided between these types of stories and Spike Walker's own experiences on crab boats. Spike goes into too much detail when recounting his own crab boat experiences especially since nothing much happened to him. The description of the first boat he worked on was interesting ...more
James Korsmo
For those who love Deadliest Catch, this book is a way to get a more thorough picture of Alaskan crab fishing. Spike Walker fished the deadly waters during the crab boom, when deck hands could take home spectacular paychecks, and boats were being built or converted as fast as the yards could do it. In this book, he chronicles his own journey to become a crab fisherman, starting as a greenhorn. We get to know a number of the captains and crews from his years on the water. He also tell tales of am ...more
Dan Secor
Jun 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written long before the popular Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch, this book explores what it is like to work on the dangerous crab boats in Alaska's Bering Sea, written by someone who was there during the boom days of the late 70's and early '80s. Most of the book centers around his first hand experience on several different ships, but he also has accounts (through interviews with survivors) of some of the more spectacular disasters of that era, a couple of which are recounted during the f ...more
Aug 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfictionread
Spike Walker tells an incredible story of the danger, intensity and craziness of crab fishing in Alaska during the late 70's and early 80's. I've watched several seasons of the Deadliest Catch and that enhanced the book as it was easy to understand and visualize the story being told but it also took away from the book as the shock of the insanity was diminished. If you haven't watched the TV series... I highly recommend the book. If you have, this won't be as shocking to you but it is still a gr ...more
Roger Weston
Nov 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading a book by Spike Walker is like watching a classic adventure movie because of the vivid writing and the hair-raising stories.
If you hunger for Alaskan adventure stories, you might also try The Golden Catch, a thriller/adventure novel where the action unfolds in the stormy Aleutians.

If you crave action and adventure, you might also try The Golden Catch.

--Roger Weston, author of The Golden Catch
Joe Hvezda
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It is a heartfelt, first person, gritty depiction if life and survival in the Bearing Sea. Because you don't just work in the Bearing Sea, you survive it, and there are men who go back every year and do just that. For those that are really into the current Discovery network show, Deadliest Catch, and for those thinking they want to challenge the Bearing Sea and the Captain and crews who sail her as a matter of course, this is a must read.
I enjoyed this book a lot. I do know a bit about crab fishing since I am a dedicated Deadliest Catch fan and I also read loads of other books about fishing on high seas. But nevertheless, this book never got boring. Spike Walker finds the perfect mix of narrating his story and loads of other stories at sea. It has a good tempo, you never get bored, it goes on and on and you always want to know what happens on the next page.
Jul 06, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My husband and I are 'Deadliest Catch' devotees, and I saw Spike Walker on an 'After the Catch' TV special. I thought it would be a good add-on to my collection of Linda Greenlaw books, and I wasn't disappointed. I just love to live vicariously through fishermen on the high seas for some damned reason!
Chris S
Nov 13, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fishermen
This is a good book to teach people about fishing. If you are interested in fishing at alaska. Its about a guy named Spike Walker who wants to make a living fishing in alaska. His first job is on a little tanner crab boat. Then a little while later he gets a job on a big king crab boat. Thats all i've read so far.
If you like Deadliest Catch you'll find this tale of one man's eight seasons on a crab boat to be fascinating as he worked before the days of electronic line coilers and much modern equipment, battling the seas, seeing bumper crops of crabs and losing other crab fisherman to the sea.
This book by Spike Walker dealt with the dangers of king crab fishing long before the popular TV series "The Deadliest Catch" was aired. If you're familiar with that TV series, you've got a pretty good idea of what this book is about.
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfic
Decent read, took a lot longer to get through over the holidays. The book was about what I expected, having read a couple of other titles by the author, but well-written, and a great view into the heyday of Alaskan crab fishing.
Chris Seals
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book long before the show Deadliest Catch", so when I first saw the show I thought, gee, that is so much like that book I read....DAH....the show comes from the book! This book is a great adventure to read.
Sep 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is what spawned "The Deadliest Catch." Spike Walker describes the conditions that made the king crab fishing boom of the late 1970's possible, and the shipwrecks, storms, and other disasters that accompanied it.
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spike Walker has a way of making a person feel like they are there. Even before "Deadliest Catch", Walker sets you up so you would get the feeling of the waves beneath the boat carrying you along to the next adventure and (hopefully) home again.
Aug 09, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If your looking for a modern version of Jack London's "The Seal Wolf" you won't find it here. If you want to know what it was like to be a full share deckhand on a king crab boat during the boom times from 1977 to 1983 with bone crushing detail this is the book for you.
Lucie Hayward
Oct 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book! I'd recommend it for anyone who is a fan of Deadliest Catch. What I didn't realize before I read it is that it was published in 1991, well before the series. It was based on the author's experiences working on various crab boats in the late 70's / early 80's.
Jul 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
for the rough and tough who want to earn a quick buck the hard way
Aug 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
An excellent overview of the crab-fishing industry by one who spent many years in the business. The inspiration for the hit Discovery Channel series "Deadliest Catch."
Jul 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a real page turner, at times humorous, thrilling, touching. fun read!
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