Expanding Bookshelf's Reviews > The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger
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Jun 03, 2011

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In October 1991, a crew of fisherman left the port in their hometown, Gloucester Massachusetts to fish for swordfish. They were never seen again.”A Perfect Storm” Sebastian Junger’s creative nonfiction account of these men and their fate is a researched, sympathetic, and mesmerizing chronicle of man’s struggle against nature.
The book follows the lives of the sword fishing crew of the Andrea Gail and their family members before and during the 1991 Perfect Storm. Among the men boarding the Andrea Gail were Billy Tyne, Alfred Pierre, David “Sully” Sullivan, Michael “Bugsy” Moran, Dale “Murph” Murphy, and Bobby Shatford. Junger spends the first portion of the book describing each man, his backgrounds, his strength and his weakness and interviews the men’s family and friends in order to convey to the reader that there were real people. He makes a point of noting that several of the crewmembers had a bad feeling before sailing off, but followed their brains instead of their guts. Most of them anyway; one man dropped out a few days before the ship left port. Junger explains, “People often get premonitions when they do jobs that could get them killed … the trick is knowing when to listen to them.”
What ends up happening to the Andrea Gail has happened to countless boats and crew in every fishing community around the world: crew and boast depart for profitable fishing waters, the sea claims the boat, women and children are left without husbands, sons and fathers. A community mourns the loss of a handful of its citizens. The cycle repeats. What is unique about this story is how Junger tells it. He has certainly made all attempts to present a plausible scenario of what could have happened to the boat and crew. The most gripping part of the book is when Junger tries to guess, using other people’s accounts of shipwrecks. He hypothesized about what they would have said, what maneuvers they may have tried to make, how they were feeling and when they probably gave up. In a cold, detached and scientific manner, Junger then chronicles exactly what happens to a drowning person, what pain they are feeling and how their bodies will react. It’s an unbelievably moving section and ultimately what convinced me to finish reading the book.
In the end I enjoyed the book. The most compelling part of the book was about the men on the Andrea Gail, and I lost some interest when he devoted time to other people and experiences. However, if you are a fan of nonfiction, you should read this book.

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