The summer of 1916 was brutally hot, driving thousands to the Jersey Shore to indulge in the newfangled activity of swimming in the ocean, and a good swimmer could strut his stuff in front of an appreciative audience. But happiness turned to horror as a killer invaded this idyllic scene--with never a warning and showing no mercy to its victims. Soon the beaches were filled with screams as this monster of the sea dragged unsuspecting vacationers down under the waves, chomping off limbs and leaving pools of blood and horrified onlookers in its wake. How many deaths would it take before the truth about this terrifying monster would be known? History and hubris. Drama and daring. Science and sizzle. It's all here in one package, brought to life by the extraordinary voice of Taylor Mali.
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“Extraordinary...Capuzzo captures a time of innocence, and its greatest nightmare.”
— John Sandford, author of Chosen Prey
“A major achievement, building on the sandy shore a formidable piece of American history. The writing is controlled and vivid and the research magnificent. Remarkable, among other things, is the author’s ability to almost get into the ‘mind’ of the shark as it moved through the sea and sought to maneuver itself to its best advantage in order to survive. Close to Shore is a splendid book.”
— Gay Talese
“Capuzzo’s account of the 1916 shark attacks on the Jersey shore recaptures the intense drama of the real events with a lyrical intensity rare in nonfiction writing. Along with its riveting doses of sheer terror, it recreates an era. You feel the past. Meticulously researched, beautifully written. This is strong stuff.”
-–Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down
“Close to Shore is a truly remarkable book. Michael Capuzzo has combined a beautifully written social history with the kind of thriller that defies being put down until the last page. But this monster story is dreadfully true. And in Capuzzo’s capable hands it becomes an elegiac story that tugs at the heart at the same time it makes it beat all the faster. Books like this one just don’t come along very often.”
— Michael Connelly, author of A Darkness More Than Night
“Several decades ago, a little summer thriller named Jaws changed swimming habits forever. Now along comes Michael Capuzzo with his own take on the great white shark, a story made all the more incredible because it happened. Close to Shore is a wonderful period piece of America on the cusp of the Roaring Twenties. But at the book’s heart is that most mysterious of all sea creatures–the great white–lurking, thinking, calculating, and then acting with its fifty triangular teeth and six tons of per square inch pressure. Read Capuzzo’s account of what happened that summer on the Jersey Shore, and then, I dare you, go back in the water.”
— Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights
Five CDs, 6 hrs.
Read by Len Cariou
Four deaths. One maiming. One shark. . .
In mesmerizing detail, journalist Michael Capuzzo's CLOSE TO SHORE recounts the dramatic true story of a series of shark attacks that occurred along the New Jersey shore in July 1916 -- resulting in the largest shark hunt in history, and the end of Americans' naivete about the dangers of the sea. Anchored by harrowing and graphic recreations of a rogue Great White Shark's attacks on five swimmers in two beach towns --as well as in a farming community eleven miles inland -- the narrative examines the behavior of the ocean's greatest predator and the lives and worldview of pre-World War I Americans. The novelistic narrative evokes both the chilling specter of sharks and the rich historical backdrop of Gilded Age America, an era when Americans were just beginning to swim in the ocean, and the Jersey shore, thanks to the railroads, was coming into its own as a playground for America's new leisure class. Woven throughout is the theme of how these shark attacks metaphorically marked the end of an "innocent" ag
e in America when a ship was considered unsinkable and a shark, experts believed, hadn't the jaw strength to hurt a man.
Based on in-depth archival research into accounts of the attacks from 1916 newspapers and science journals and existing interviews with victims' relatives as well as research and reporting on the social and cultural currents of the era and on what we have learned about sharks in the intervening decades, CLOSE TO SHORE paints vivid portraits of individuals ranging from tourists, local citizens and shore developers to scientists, shark experts and hunters. Capuzzo interspersesthe spellbinding narrative with fascinating insights on shark behavior and on the evolving human-shark relationship, incorporating tales of shark attacks that occurred elsewhere and at other times to create a timeless account of our relationship with man's last natural predator.
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