Twelve Days of Terror: A definitive Investigation of the 1916 New Jersey Shark Attacks

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9781585742974: Twelve Days of Terror: A definitive Investigation of the 1916 New Jersey Shark Attacks
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Vividly told for the first time, the true-life story of the 1916 wave of shark attacks that inspired Jaws takes readers to the Jersey shore in the midst of World War I, where a shark, or school of sharks, was feeding on bathers.

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In July 1916, a time of record-setting heat and a raging polio epidemic, beachgoers along the New Jersey shore confronted a greater terror still: lurking in the water swam a shark, or perhaps several sharks, that had apparently developed a taste for human flesh. Within less than two weeks, the offending fish killed four swimmers and badly injured another, setting off a wave of panic that kept visitors well out of the water and threatened the state's thriving tourist economy.

Officials were quick to react. President Woodrow Wilson, himself from New Jersey, sought and received $5,000 from Congress to eradicate the villain. Unsure of which species was to blame, commercial fishermen and state police alike destroyed every shark they encountered, while some conspiracy-minded journalists hinted that the attacks had somehow been triggered by German U-boats plying the waters off New Jersey.

Those strange events of 1916 are not much remembered today, except, perhaps, by fans of Peter Benchley's novel Jaws, whose origin lies in the attacks. Richard Fernicola revives the incident with this thoroughgoing investigation, which offers solid information on the natural history and behavior of the many shark species that populate the Atlantic, and which hazards educated guesses as to which kind of shark did the fatal mischief--and why. --Gregory McNamee

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In July 1916, four people were killed in two weeks by a series of shark attacks, causing panic all along the coast. Perhaps best known as the inspiration for the Peter Benchley novel and Steve Spielberg film 'Jaws,' the story is set down here as the gripping record of what really happened.

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