Close to Shore
The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916
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Combining rich historical detail and a harrowing, pulse-pounding narrative, Close to Shore brilliantly re-creates 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.
In July 1916 a lone Great White left its usual deep-ocean habitat and headed in the direction of the New Jersey shoreline. There, near the towns of Beach Haven and Spring Lake--and, incredibly, a farming community eleven miles inland--the most ferocious and unpredictable of predators began a deadly rampage: the first shark attacks on swimmers in U.S. history.
For Americans celebrating an astoundingly prosperous epoch, fueled by the wizardry of revolutionary inventions, the arrival of this violent predator symbolized the limits of mankind's power against nature.
Interweaving a vivid portrait of the era and meticulously drawn characters with chilling accounts of the shark's five attacks and the frenzied hunt that ensued, Michael Capuzzo has created a nonfiction historical thriller with the texture of Ragtime and the tension of Jaws. From the unnerving inevitability of the first attack on the esteemed son of a prosperous Philadelphia physician to the spine-tingling moment when a farm boy swimming in Matawan Creek feels the sandpaper-like skin of the passing shark, Close to Shore is an undeniably gripping saga.
Heightening the drama are stories of the resulting panic in the citizenry, press and politicians, and of colorful personalities such as Herman Oelrichs, a flamboyant millionaire who made a bet that a shark was no match for a man (and set out to prove it); Museum of Natural History ichthyologist John Treadwell Nichols, faced with the challenge of stopping a mythic sea creature about which little was known; and, most memorable, the rogue Great White itself moving through a world that couldn't conceive of either its destructive power or its moral right to destroy.
Scrupulously researched and superbly written, Close to Shore brings to life a breathtaking, pivotal moment in American history. Masterfully written and suffused with fascinating period detail and insights into the science and behavior of sharks, Close to Shore recounts a breathtaking, pivotal moment in American history with startling immediacy.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
One of the best non fiction books I have read in years.
Since reading this book, I have spent hours doing research, reading old newspaper accounts, and pouring over documented shark attack cases. Overall, the book has proven to be accurate, and it obviously inspired me to keep reading about the topic. I thought the author did a good job of allowing the reader to experience things from what would have likely been the shark's point of view in addition to describing the human perspective on the attacks.
If you frequent the Jersey shore, you will also appreciate the local history...I guess those portions of the book could be a bit dry for those who are unfamiliar with the general area. I also want to point out that I felt the author did a good job of helping the reader to remember that the victims were real people whose deaths impacted many.
It was the best non fiction book I have read since The Devil In the White City.
Perfect Thing For a Beach Trip
Seriously, a very good book. Well written, with plenty of information on sharks and interesting, and not well known information about the times. Until the summer of 1916 most experts didn't think Great Whites were dangerous to humans!