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

Combining Fear and Science, This Wave is Thrilling

  • Dec 26, 2010
Rating:
+4
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 monster waves. One of the most famous names is that of Laird Hamilton, but she also introduces you to many of the other big names in "extreme" surfing (those that ride waves over 60 feet high). Once I got comfortable with Casey's dual subject matter, The Wave turned out to be an extremely enjoyable read.

The story opens off the coast of Scotland. A research vessel is riding out a storm, enduring hundred foot waves. Prior to this occurrence, most people believed that waves in excess of eighty feet to be rare, even impossible, however this ship is loaded with scientific gear and through the storm the equipment records massive wave heights. This was a documented event that caused engineers to rethink ship and oil platform standards. Now the existence of the waves was documented, the question turned to "how?" While the scientific community were hesitant to believe the existence of towering waves, one group of people were in search of them - extreme surfers. As Casey moves from the academic world to the physical world, she focuses on one particular extreme surfer, Laird Hamilton. Hamilton championed "tow surfing." Using Jet Skis and working in pairs, one person tows another into position; the surfer lets go and rockets onto the face of waves far too big and too fast to catch by the conventional paddling. This technique allows surfers to ride enormous waves, sometimes miles offshore.

Weaving a story that intersects these seemingly disparate groups, Casey brings the ocean alive for the reader. Focusing on extreme surfers allows her to humanize the story, which bridges the gap between ocean and man. Further, she introduces us to climatologists that strongly believe that the warming Earth will induce wave heights even higher. But, as one researched points out, while we will see stormier oceans, they won't be able to prove it until it is too late. Much like the ocean, The Wave is a roller coaster of a book. The science is fascinating, the scientists, themselves, are interesting. The descriptions of the ocean and its power, awesome. The pursuit of the extreme surfers drags the narrative in places, until they are out riding mountainous waves. At those points, Casey writes in a manner that actually puts you in the action. But from the safety of your favorite reading chair.

Disclosure:
Obtained from: Amazon Vine Review Program
Payment: Free

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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 . September 06, 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 …
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Gregg Eldred ()
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It never ceases to amaze me how many doors have opened up for me since I started reviewing the books I read. Publishers now send me free books to read and review. Authors contact me. Kind folks at Lunch … more
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Wiki

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Tags

Books, Surfing, Oceanography, Ocean Waves

Details

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