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4.1 out of 5 stars14
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on 26 October 2010
A book about 'the sea' wasn't my idea of 'gripping' or 'great time investment', however from page one I couldn't put The Wave down. And I couldn't not speak about it to everyone I met; it SO stimulated my thinking. Susan Casey's talent of writing about a range of factual (and rather 'cardboard') subjects - weather, volcanoes, global shipping - alongside something as heart-pumping as life-and-death, wipe-out surfing is genius. She run's the parallel stories with the skill of a natural-born temptress (I mean that respectfully, Susan, if you read this!).

The 100-foot wave: to a ship's captain is his biggest threat; to a surfer his biggest opportunity and challenge. All experiences with that wave are potentially life-threatening. Casey writes on that knife-edge between extreme danger and extreme adrenalin.

You just gotta read it!!
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on 10 December 2011
It showed me a world I knew nothing about - I didn't originally buy this for myself but for my husband, but I had been wanting to read more awe-inspring/non-neurotic stuff and this really did it for me. An education about waves (and importantly how climate change is a factor in wave chaos), about the unpredictability of nature, and surfing! I think the surfing portion led both my husband and I to join the other worshippers of Laird Hamilton! Timely enough - I was reading this during the Japanese tsunami and this book gave a lot of insight into he relationships between earthquakes, waves, and as I mentioned, climate change. (Melting polar ice means more water weight in the ocean, and can result in underwater landslides and pressure causing earthquakes). The author did a great job with this book, keeping a barrage of facts interesting rather than mind-numbing. Recommended!
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on 30 October 2013
Waves can be thought of small and harmless, as they wash gently against your feet on a sun kissed beach. But they have a darker side, an ability to become an enormous destructive force that can obliterate landscapes, cities and ships.

Fifteen years ago scientists did not believe the reports of 100 foot high waves that appeared from nowhere in calm seas to sink boats. Their models didn't show them, and they thought they were myths or just wrong estimates of the height of the wave. But then there were two instances, an oil rig that had sensors fitted to record the heights of the waves beneath the platform, and a research ship in the Atlantic that was caught in a horrendous storm. The measurements proved what scientists didn't believe was possible; that not only did these monster waves exist, and they occurred frequently.

Each year a number of ships disappear completely without trace. It was thought that it was because of maintenance or other factors, but it is now believed that some of them are completely overwhelmed by these freak waves. Casey visits Lloyds in London to see the register of lost ships and talk to the insurance giant about ship losses. It is thought that around two big ships a week are lost, mostly bulk carriers, and there are pictures in the book of ships with their bows ripped off, and 70 foot high decks being covered with water

She spends a lot of time with those at the leading edge of surfing. This select group are the guys who only want to surf the giant 60 foot plus waves. This is a dangerous game, and even though the safety equipment has improved since the beginning, lives are lost every year. A lot of these waves are formed by the geology in particular coastal areas and this forces the wave higher and increases the danger as they are above reefs or close to cliffs. To even get onto these wave require the surfer to be towed onto the wave behind a jet ski..

Even thought this is a nonfiction book about the sea, it reads like a thriller. Casey's writing add drama and eloquence to the drama of being on a ship that is at the mercy of the sea, the anticipation of the surfers waiting for that perfect 100 foot wave and the scientists who are humbled by the power of the natural world.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 26 September 2010
This is more than a book about surfing. It also features a scientific quest to see if, as anecdote suggests, that waves are getting bigger, whether as a result of global warming or for some other reason.
The main thrust of the book is however the unending search of a bunch of madmen, Laird Hamilton in particular, looking to surf ever bigger waves, the sort where being towed in by a jetski isn't enough and they have to resort to helicopters! Ms Casey goes some way to explaining the motivation of these dudes - she doesn't actually resort to surfer speak to often to be honest - but the main hero of the piece is the sea itself and the mighty power therein. Describing ancient tsunamis, ships that have been split in half and indeed the monster surf of the likes of "Jaws", this book is a mesmeric story, provoking awe and fear in equal measure.
And the scary thing is, the common consensus is that waves are getting bigger so those surfers have never ending targets to aim for.
Crazy man!
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VINE VOICEon 5 August 2011
This is a beautiful piece of writing; the interweaving of global catastrophe and the surfers' pursuit of the ultimate ride (with the ultimate price) make for an intriguing mix. Individual stories are told with flair and brio - some of them comic and others terrifying. The only limitation is that there was a little too much Big Wave Riding; it got a tad repetitious for me, but others might have an appetite for this. It's hard to say whether the surfers or the theme of worsening waves were more terrifying.
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on 7 June 2012
I am not a surfer, or someone particularly knowledgeable about big wave phenomena, but I am vaguely interested in both, and it had good reviews, so bought it. What I wasn't expecting was that this is probably the most compelling non-fiction book I have ever read! Beautifully written, you get such a clear image of what the author, and more importantly that of those interviewed, have experienced. It is simply a must read, and everyone I have recommended it to thinks the same. 6 stars!!
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on 20 December 2010
I really loved this book; once I had started I couldn't put it down- as an ex-surfer it held special interest of course, but its range was much more embracing and analytical, entering the world of physics and history as well as personal experience. A truly all embracing, well put-together composition encompassing objective reportage with insightful experience appealing to the specialist as well as to the interested reader. Highly recommended.
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on 1 January 2013
A very enjoyable read which when started I struggled to put down. I would advise this book for anyone who has a passion for the seas.
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on 13 April 2011
I was hoping for a cross between the Perfect Storm & a more scientific study focusing on waves - stories from around the world of freak waves, then the science under-pinning it. Instead the book is basically 90% how chiselled & awesome surfers are and then a brief recap in every 5th chapter about some time a ship sank, for, um, some reason, but back to how dreamy Lairds blue-grey eyes are. Anytime a book devotes more pages to what Laird Hamilton has for breakfast or looks like with his shirt off than it does to something like the sinking of the Munchen it loses a fair bit of credibility. Woeful, unless you are looking for a Mills & Boon book about Laird Hamilton, in which case, it's, like, totally out there and gnarly.
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on 2 January 2011
Having seen the hype and interviews on television I eagerly awaited the arrival of this book. It doesn't live up to it, but was enjoyable nonetheless. By comparison "The Perfect Storm" was a much better read (lousy movie). It was similiar in style. The descriptions of surfing were very well done. The author and her protagonists are crazy, if not brave.
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