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Close to Shore: A True Story of Terror in an Age of Innocence

Capuzzo, Mike;Capuzzo, Michael

4,121 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0767904133 / ISBN 13: 9780767904131
Published by Broadway Books, New York, New York, U.S.A., 2001
Used Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Jaystime (Salem, OR, U.S.A.)

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2001 Fine book, As new unclipped jacket in mylar cover, Stated First Edition, First Printing 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 317 clean unmarked tight pages, book appears to be unread, end pages are b/w newspaper headlines, book has blue boards with 1/4 black spine with gold foil lettering, a blind stamped B is on the front cover, jacket has a photo of many swimmers on the beach and in the water, gray skies overhead, gold, white and black lettering on the front and spine jacket. Bookseller Inventory # 001160

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Close to Shore: A True Story of Terror in an...

Publisher: Broadway Books, New York, New York, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 2001

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Combining rich historical detail and a harrowing, pulse-pounding narrative, Close to Shore brilliantly re-creates the summer of 1916, when a rogue Great White shark attacked swimmers along the New Jersey shore, triggering mass hysteria and launching the most extensive shark hunt in history.

During the summer before the United States entered World War I, when ocean swimming was just becoming popular and luxurious Jersey Shore resorts were thriving as a chic playland for an opulent yet still innocent era's new leisure class, Americans were abruptly introduced to the terror of sharks. In July 1916 a lone Great White left its usual deep-ocean habitat and headed in the direction of the New Jersey shoreline. There, near the towns of Beach Haven and Spring Lake-and, incredibly, a farming community eleven miles inland-the most ferocious and unpredictable of predators began a deadly rampage: the first shark attacks on swimmers in U.S. history.

For Americans celebrating an astoundingly prosperous epoch much like our own, fueled by the wizardry of revolutionary inventions, the arrival of this violent predator symbolized the limits of mankind's power against nature.

Interweaving a vivid portrait of the era and meticulously drawn characters with chilling accounts of the shark's five attacks and the frenzied hunt that ensued, Michael Capuzzo has created a nonfiction historical thriller with the texture of Ragtime and the tension of Jaws. From the unnerving inevitability of the first attack on the esteemed son of a prosperous Philadelphia physician to the spine-tingling moment when a farm boy swimming in Matawan Creek feels the sandpaper-like skin of the passing shark, Close to Shore is an undeniably gripping saga.

Heightening the drama are stories of the resulting panic in the citizenry, press and politicians, and of colorful personalities such as Herman Oelrichs, a flamboyant millionaire who made a bet that a shark was no match for a man (and set out to prove it); Museum of Natural History ichthyologist John Treadwell Nichols, faced with the challenge of stopping a mythic sea creature about which little was known; and, most memorable, the rogue Great White itself moving through a world that couldn't conceive of either its destructive power or its moral right to destroy.

Scrupulously researched and superbly written, Close to Shore brings to life a breathtaking, pivotal moment in American history. Masterfully written and suffused with fascinating period detail and insights into the science and behavior of sharks, Close to Shore recounts a breathtaking, pivotal moment in American history with startling immediacy.


Michael Capuzzo tells the harrowing story of the real-life Jaws that helped inspire Peter Benchley's classic novel (and movie). Modern science now tells us that shark attacks are exceedingly rare and limited to just a few species. Yet they do occur, and one of the most terrifying episodes of fatal attacks occurred near the New Jersey shore in 1916, when a renegade great white shark went on a man-eating spree that left three adults and one boy dead. Capuzzo likens the shark's abnormal behavior to that of a person "who goes off the deep end and starts shooting." Whatever its motives, the shark captivated the public's imagination along the Eastern seaboard, devastated the resort economy, and even drew the attention of President Woodrow Wilson.

Close to Shore is a bit slow to get going and could have been a much shorter book. There is a fair amount of stage setting, and the first shark attack doesn't occur until about one-third of the way through the narrative. But Capuzzo does much with limited source material and includes lots of interesting asides on everything from the lore of sea monsters to the bathing-suit fashions of the day to nearly everything science knows about great whites, which, it turns out, is surprisingly little.

Alternating from the victims' perspectives to the shark's, Capuzzo's descriptions of the attacks are a blend of horrors and thrills: "Charles Bruder felt a slight vacuum tug in the motion of the sea, noted it as a passing current, the pull of a wave, the tickle of undertow. He could not have heard the faint, sucking rush of water not far beneath him. He couldn't have seen or heard what was hurtling from the murk at astonishing speed, jaws unhinging, widening, for the enormous first bite. It was the classic attack that no other creature in nature could make--a bomb from the depths." If this book were on any other subject, it would make for good beach reading. --John J. Miller

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