Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining.
My 15 year old son and I read this together. There was enough big-wave surfing for him and nearly enough pop-science for me.
The surf part is a gentle story about middle aged men (literally in their 40???s) who ride the biggest waves in the world. This is a skill that probably takes 20 years to develop, as a result there are only a very few very young men (and one women) who do this. The author seems to have some kind of love (not explicitly sexual) for some of these men, which seems to artfully enhance the story. The central surfer is a man who literally lives on the stretch of beach that is has the most famous big break in Hawaii (a 60 foot face known as Jaws). One day in a big storm he rides a 110 foot face, at another cite, which is well beyond the official record, but no one is around to film it, and his friend nearly dies in the resulting accident.
The science part is not quite detailed enough to make since unless you already know a little bit about it. It helped that I did know a little about it. The probability distribution of waves has a much heavier tail than was ever imagined. And the world is full of really big waves that destroy modern ships and sea structures (but not so much the older designs), because in the 20th century we thought we???d come to understand waves and we optimized our designs to that understanding. In the last 10 (maybe 15 years) we???ve learned that our modern understanding was less right than the older empirical understanding.
It is true that climate change is making big waves bigger (my opinion), but this is incidental compared to the core science story. It???s a bit tedious that the book keeps returning to climate change. It???s like scientist discovered that Sasquatch is real, and oh yea by the way Sasquatch breading rates are down 10%.
For a book about waves, it covered a lot about surfing, not the rogue waves, their causes, effects, and accounts. Also I did not appreciate the "surfing vocabulary" that made the book "R" rated.
I've been subscribing for years now to recapture my commute. I've listened to over 80 books. This is the first book that as soon as it ended, I just restarted it. If you have any love of the ocean, surfing, science and legend - you will love this book. Great for repeat listenings too. Not a one and done book.
I liked the book, but it was not what I expected. From the title I thought it may be mostly about rogue waves, with the science and history about them. It did include this, but a lot of the book (maybe 40-50%) also included information & a focus on people who surf monster waves. The subtitle should probably be called, “In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean, and the Psychology of the Surfers Who Ride Them.”
Not that surfing is bad at all. If you are into surfing, you will absolutely love this book. However it was not what I thought the book would be. Granted the book description mentions surfing, but I did not think that a large amount of the book’s material would be devoted to it. At times the book’s focus was on the surfers and what they think, not on the waves themselves.
Occasionally I would get so bored about hearing about surfers and surfing, I would think, “Are we doing this again?!?” So I would skip ahead looking for when the author would again return to the study of freak waves worldwide and their impact.
Also in a few places some vulgar language is used. I know authors want to portray the "real world", but in my opinion the quality of a book goes down when an author can find no better way for expression. Definitely not one to listen to if you have some children around, such as riding with the family on a trip.
So I give the book a lower rating than most because of this. A surfer would give this book 5 stars.