Sebastian Junger is the author of The Perfect Storm, yet he is also in many ways the main character. He is part of the story, as he recognizes to his discomfort: not really a journalist in his own mind but rather "just a guy with a pen and paper and an idea for a book." While Junger is a first person presence in the foreword and afterword, he is also very much present throughout, unapologetically taking the reader aside on digressions to explain the dynamics of waves, the physics of storms, and the physiology of drowning. He is overtly uncomfortable about his standing in Gloucester: he is an outsider, he has never fished, and he is intruding on the lives and grief of real people, whose misery he will write about for all the world to read. Even worse, neither Junger nor anyone else knows what happened in the last hours to the Andrea Gail, and thus the climax of the book, the fulfillment of its opening promise stimulated by the sinking of the fishing boat off Georges Bank in 1896, to answer the question, "How do men act on a sinking ship?", must be pure speculation. Fictional characters can be made to run a gamut of literary emotions, but what is the protocol when the men were real and family members still mourn them? Junger builds credibility with his ethical punctiliousness and restraint, repeating "undoubtedly" and "maybe" as the case requires when actions and feelings must be inferred, and further by establishing his own thoroughness and familiarity...
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