Sebastian Junger Introduction - Essay

Introduction

Sebastian Junger The Perfect Storm

American nonfiction writer.

Before he became a writer, Sebastian Junger made a living as a climber for a tree-removal company. After suffering a serious injury, he turned his attention to writing. Junger reports having always had a fascination with men facing extreme situations, and his first book, The Perfect Storm (1997), expresses this interest. The book follows the true story of a swordfishing boat, the Andrea Gail, and her crew as they face one of the worst storms in the last hundred years, a gale that one meteorologist termed a "perfect storm." In October of 1991, two storm fronts joined with the remnants of Hurricane Grace to create 70- to 100-foot waves and 100-mile-per-hour winds. On October 28, the Andrea Gail was returning to her port in Gloucester, Massachusetts, after a successful trip and was carrying 40,000 pounds of swordfish and tuna in her hold; she was halfway home near the coast of Nova Scotia when the storm began. The captain sent one final radio message and was never heard from again. Though no first-hand accounts of the Andrea Gail's final hours exist, Junger attempts to relate the ship's last voyage by piecing together stories of survivors caught in the same storm, adding meteorological information about the force of the storm and the effect it was likely to have had on the Andrea Gail. Junger also traces the lives of the crew before they left on the trip and recounts the history of the fishing industry in Gloucester. Many reviewers noted the ambitious research and technical information that went into The Perfect Storm. Anthony Bailey asserted that "not all of Junger's information is vital to his task," but most critics found the technical information helpful to the story and praised Junger for his masterful handling of it. Richard Ellis stated, "In less competent hands, this abundance of information might impede the progress of the narrative. But, for the most part, the book—like the storm it describes—rolls along toward its inevitable conclusion: the sinking of the Andrea Gail and the death of its crew." Reviewers also lauded Junger for his ability to create a vivid, though imagined, picture of the event. Bailey said, "just as he has kept us hooked so far, despite our knowing from the start that the Andrea Gail and her crew are doomed, so he manages with considerable reporting skill to conjure up their last hours." Sandy Bauers described The Perfect Storm as "a cross between a meteorological whatdunnit and a high-seas drama."