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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean » User review

The quest for the Holy Grail of surfing... the 100 foot wave

  • Sep 6, 2010
From the Amazon Vine program, I received a copy of Susan Casey's The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean. She mixes two different types of types of stories here. First, there's the surfer culture that goes after The Big One, waves that could easily kill them. That story revolves mainly around Laird Hamilton, well-known for his ability to not only find but ride waves that run 60, 70, even 80 feet in size. The Holy Grail in surfing is to find and ride a 100 foot wave, and the narrative works up to the point where Hamilton and his crew find themselves in the position of having to decide whether to go for it when the moment finally arrives.

The other story centers more around the science of giant and rogue waves. They don't follow a set pattern, so they're very difficult to forecast using current techniques and theories. To make the study even more challenging, very few structures and devices can withstand the energy released by waves of that magnitude, so gathering information borders on the impossible. As such, reports abound of ships lost at sea without a single distress call from the crew, and there's little anyone can do to nail down the exact cause and improve the survivability of these oceanographic freaks of nature.

Overall, The Wave was a good read. It's slanted more heavily towards the story of the surfers than the science behind the waves, and I wish the balance between the two angles had been a bit more even. Not being a surfer myself, there's only so far I can go in fully appreciating the risks that these individuals take every time they go out on the water. I would have preferred to go more deeply into some of the mysteries surrounding the sunken ships and what's being done to try and predict the formation of rogue waves. Even so, Casey is an accomplished writer, and I was drawn into the book in ways I didn't expect. I know that when I'm on my next cruise, I'll spend an extra few moments looking at the waves and wondering "what if..."

Obtained From: Amazon Vine Review Program
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More The Wave: In Pursuit of the Ro... reviews
review by . October 27, 2010
I was surprised to discover The Wave to be more a study of surfers and surfing than the science of waves but I don't think Susan Casey had much of a choice. The ocean is huge, filled with waves (who would have thought), and the waves don't seem to follow any consistently discernible patterns. Wave science seems to be right up there with quantum physics in terms of complexity. Scientists who study waves spend a great deal of time scratching their heads wondering WTF. The scary part of this …
review by . December 26, 2010
Right off, this book was not what I expected. While a little more research on my would have set my expectations, I assumed a book with the title The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean would focus solely on oceanic waves and the science behind them. Author Susan Casey, does include some science of giant waves (waves reaching 100 feet and, in some cases, beyond) however, she weaves another story within the pages, that of the surfers that travel the world to surf those …
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Thomas Duff ()
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Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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About this book


Casey, O magazine editor-in-chief, travels across the world and into the past to confront the largest waves the oceans have to offer. This dangerous water includes rogue waves south of Africa, storm-born giants near Hawaii, and the biggest wave ever recorded, a 1,740 foot-high wall of wave (taller than one and a third Empire State Buildings) that blasted the Alaska coastline in 1958. Casey follows big-wave surfers in their often suicidal attempts to tackle monsters made of H2O, and also interviews scientists exploring the danger that global warning will bring us more and larger waves. Casey writes compellingly of the threat and beauty of the ocean at its most dangerous. We get vivid historical reconstructions and her firsthand account of being on a jet-ski watching surfers risk their lives. Casey also smoothly translates the science of her subject into engaging prose. This book will fascinate anyone who has even the slightest interest in the oceans that surround us.
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Books, Surfing, Oceanography, Ocean Waves


ISBN-10: 0767928849
ISBN-13: 978-0767928847
Author: Susan Casey
Genre: Outdoors & Nature, Science
Publisher: Doubleday
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