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The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean | [Susan Casey]

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean

For centuries, mariners have spun tales of gargantuan waves, 100-feet high or taller. Until recently scientists dis­missed these stories - waves that high would seem to violate the laws of physics. But in the past few decades, as a startling number of ships vanished and new evidence has emerged, oceanographers realized something scary was brewing in the planet’s waters. They found their proof in February 2000, when a British research vessel was trapped in a vortex of impossibly mammoth waves in the North Sea - including several that approached 100 feet.
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Audible Editor Reviews

The Wave, Susan Casey’s fascinating account of rogue waves, the scientists who study them, and the fearless surfers who travel the world to ride these elusive, powerful freaks of nature, will forever change how you look at the ocean. It’s also one of the best books I’ve ever heard.

Kirsten Potter narrates The Wave with a no-nonsense, matter-of-fact tone that perfectly suits Casey’s carefully researched book. Then, at just the right moments, she delivers descriptions of these colossal walls of water with the same amount of awe and wonder that Casey clearly feels for these almost mythical creatures. Potter’s comfort with the text makes you feel like you’re right there with Casey, hanging out in Oahu with the world’s greatest surfers or discussing complex scientific theories with the world’s foremost wave scientists.

But make no mistake — The Wave is not a dry, scientific tome geared for climatologists and oceanographers. While Casey does a fantastic job of translating scientific theories into easy-to-understand language about why such massive waves have become m ore common, The Wave really soars when Casey tags along with big wave riders like Laird Hamilton and their quest to ride the largest waves on earth, waves approaching heights of 80 to 100 feet — or even higher.

Casey doesn’t just sit on the sidelines though. She thrusts herself onto boats and jet skis into some of the most fearsome waves in Hawaii, California, Mexico, and Bali. She earns the right to call these waves by their first names: Jaws, Mavericks, Killers, Ghost Tree, and Egypt. Her keen eye for detail also enables her to describe in vivid language why each of these waves deserves a place in “the all-star cast in nature’s great drama”.

The Wave is a gripping sea adventure that can hold its own against other nautical nonfiction masterpieces like Sebastian Junger’s A Perfect Storm, Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon Tiki, and Ernest Shackleton’s South. The Wave will change your perspective on our oceans. They’re not static bodies of water that systematically rise and fall according to precise tidal schedules. They are unpredictable, powerful pools of energy that can be unleashed when we least expect them. It’s what makes these waves so terrifying — and so magically mesmerizing. —Ken Ross

Publisher's Summary

From Susan Casey, bestselling author of The Devil’s Teeth, an astonishing book about colossal, ship-swallowing rogue waves and the surfers who seek them out.

For centuries, mariners have spun tales of gargantuan waves, 100-feet high or taller. Until recently scientists dis­missed these stories - waves that high would seem to violate the laws of physics. But in the past few decades, as a startling number of ships vanished and new evidence has emerged, oceanographers realized something scary was brewing in the planet’s waters. They found their proof in February 2000, when a British research vessel was trapped in a vortex of impossibly mammoth waves in the North Sea - including several that approached 100 feet.

As scientists scramble to understand this phenomenon, others view the giant waves as the ultimate challenge. These are extreme surfers who fly around the world trying to ride the ocean’s most destructive monsters. The pioneer of extreme surfing is the legendary Laird Hamilton, who, with a group of friends in Hawaii, figured out how to board suicidally large waves of 70 and 80 feet. Casey follows this unique tribe of peo­ple as they seek to conquer the holy grail of their sport, a 100-­foot wave.

In this mesmerizing account, the exploits of Hamilton and his fellow surfers are juxtaposed against scientists’ urgent efforts to understand the destructive powers of waves - from the tsunami that wiped out 250,000 people in the Pacific in 2004 to the 1,740-foot-wave that recently leveled part of the Alaskan coast.

Like Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, The Wave brilliantly portrays human beings confronting nature at its most ferocious.

©2010 Susan Casey (P)2010 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

“Something is stewing in our seas, and Susan Casey - traveling, and in some cases swimming, all around the world - is eager to find out what it is. Both a rollicking look at the ocean’s growing freakishness and a troubling examination of our ailing planet, The Wave gives new meaning to the term ‘immersion reporting.’” (Hampton Sides, author of Hellhound on His Trail, Blood and Thunder, and Ghost Soldiers)

“At once scary and fun, The Wave surprises at every turn.” (Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe)

“Like the surfers and scientists she profiles, Casey lived and breathed giant waves for years. Casey combines an insane passion for craft with an uncanny ability to describe the indescribable. In The Wave she whisks the reader off to unimaginably surreal settings and puts them in the middle of mind-blowing scenarios. This book sucked me in like the undertow at Pipeline.” (Mary Roach, author of Stiff and Packing for Mars)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (391 )
5 star
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4.1 (193 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Richard Essex, CT, United States 11-10-10
    Richard Essex, CT, United States 11-10-10
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    "A Wonderful Book"

    I just loved the book and the narrator even more. And as a former merchant seaman and someone who has experienced such unusual wave activity, the book brings it all home.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stacy 09-21-14
    Stacy 09-21-14 Member Since 2015

    July is my month in the rotation; be gentle it's my first month doing this on my own

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    "Uh...Well....."

    I think this one is; uh, deserves a 4 star rating; though I think I've displayed my ambivalence to that sufficiently. Waves; particularly Tsunami and rogue waves have been a fascination for me for a few years now and I'd hoped this book would answer some of my questions about those. What I wasn't expecting was an almost surfing groupie fan magazine fawning ode to Laird Hamilton by the author. There is quite a bit of information pertaining to waves and the best places to find them; as well as the reports of people who found themselves caught up in rogue waves around the world. Unfortunately far too much of this selection is dedicated to the author's extreme admiration of Hamilton the Surfing God. Perhaps he is worthy of such admiration; after all he did convince Gaby Reese to marry him and bear his children, but it wasn't the reason I purchased this audio. The book is well done, it accurately conveys the extreme dangers of waves the size of ten to twelve story buildings. The narrator Kirsten Potter does a fantastic job with the material and the author truly expresses the magnificence of the sea and the amazing power of it. This is probably a very good listening for anyone who relate to that; it just wasn't what I thought I was buying.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. Camp Portland 05-17-14
    T. Camp Portland 05-17-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Move as far inland as possible"
    What made the experience of listening to The Wave the most enjoyable?

    The story was gripping. It clearly painted the picture of being in the ocean with gigantic monsters crashing down around you


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Wave?

    There were many, many memorable moments, but towards the end talking to Laird Hamilton while sitting on a jetski at Egypt was very compelling.


    Have you listened to any of Kirsten Potter’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made my jaw drop in amazement.


    Any additional comments?

    Everything about this book was good, EXCEPT... Kirsten Porter really, really needs to learn how to pronounce gunwale! She repeatedly pronounced it like gun whale. The word is pronounced guhn-l. It made me question if Porter had ever been on a boat.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CrazyBird 08-28-13
    CrazyBird 08-28-13

    I am a retired Histology Technician. My time is spent caring for my grandchildren, my dog, cat, and blue & gold macaw.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Surfs Up...."

    I was prepared for an epic tale of the high seas; stories of the strength of sailors and their ships against the power of the mighty oceans. I was ready for a scientific study told in an interesting, easy listening, yet adventurous way. The book actually started very well, a scientific crew on a large sea worthy, modern vessel gone missing, a few long ago tales of giant waves overpowering men's vessels, bodies and minds. I could picture the powerful, monster wall of water overshadowing and then overtaking any ship in its path. But, then, just on the other side of the behemoth, salty monster were the surfers with their boards and tales of their quest to catch The Big One. The book is well written and it can be enjoyed, to a degree, even if you are not a surfer boy or girl interested in the death defying feats of the Evel Kenievel daredevils of the water world. But, if you want real seafaring tales and facts of sailors against the giant waves of the sea or the power of the surf on our land, you will not find them here.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Austin, TX, United States 07-15-13
    Michael Austin, TX, United States 07-15-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Caught me by surprise"
    Any additional comments?

    This book, like the waves in its pages, was stronger than I would've believed. It seemed clear that Casey had done her homework, and the result was a very enjoyable listen. The only waves I don't recall her addressing happen in a baseball stadium.I went into the book believing myself to be much more interested in the wave science part than the surfing component, thinking I would just skip chapters that didn't grip me right away. It didn't take Casey more than a few paragraphs to guarantee that I would be listening to every single word. The dichotomy created by comparing the destructive power of waves upon coastlines, shipping, and other human interests with the people who would like nothing more than to be towed on a surfboard in front of such a wave is very, very compelling.For those of you who favor their imaginations, Potter's narration is excellent at summoning a vivid image of riders sitting out in the big swells, waiting with eager trepidation for what might the best ride of their life—or their last.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Loren Nancarrow San Diego, Ca. USA 11-09-12
    Loren Nancarrow San Diego, Ca. USA 11-09-12 Listener Since 2007

    Loren Nancarrow

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    "Waterman's Wet Dream"
    If you could sum up The Wave in three words, what would they be?

    Wet, wild, wonderful! A tremendous story of the ocean's grandeur, and mystery, along with a breath grabbing look at the rare breed of humans who challenge its moods.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Wave?

    As much as I enjoy the adventures of big wave surfers, I was engrossed by the historical references, and scientific and shipping details.


    What three words best describe Kirsten Potter’s performance?

    Enthusiastic,clear,butchered. Kirsten is a very good narrator, however, the pronunciation, of Hawaiian words, and town names along with nautical terms was really poor. I'm surprised Kirsten, the producer, the publisher and author allowed the audio version to be released w/o better editing.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I suppose, but I enjoy, snippets of every audio story on my commute and errands. Long roads trips with a good audio book are wonderful, but I like shorter sessions too.


    Any additional comments?

    The one poor element sadly subtracts from the overall excellent story and performance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen los angeles, CA, United States 11-29-11
    Karen los angeles, CA, United States 11-29-11 Member Since 2013

    living in los angeles I drive a lot, so audio books save me from a lot of frustration!

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    "Compelling non-fictionI have always been fascinate"

    I have always been fascinated by ocean lore, so this was catnip to me. Casey, a competitive swimmer, is passionate about this stuff and it shows. Little did I know that 200 large ships a year disappear into giant waves or other mysterious vortexes in the sea. She sends time with big wave surfer Laird Hamilton, Lloyd's of London and other top experts in the relatively new field of wave science. Will global warming make the oceans even more dangerous? I say sell that beachfront real estate before it's too late.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    compassrose Colorado Springs, CO United States 12-22-10
    compassrose Colorado Springs, CO United States 12-22-10 Member Since 2013

    compassrose

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    "it was Okay...."

    Perhaps the intended audience is extreme surfers, I found this book lacking in the information about tsumanis and rogue waves that i had expeced. She just touches on those subjects.
    The narrator has a pleasant voice but she needed to practice her Hawaiian pronounciation. it's HA LAY AHH KA LA (meaning house of the sun, "house" being "hale") and she butchered the name of the Filippino dialog. Just saying...it was hard to get my brain back to listening after the assaults on the Hawaiian language.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Candy 02-15-15
    Candy 02-15-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Better than expected."

    I was told by friends that this is a must read book. I thoroughly enjoyed the audio version. Susan capture some amazing information and research on the big waves that are out there. Now I just need to find another book with just as much drama and suspense.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    schef 02-06-15
    schef 02-06-15
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    "Amazing, intense, real life of big wave surfing"

    Amazing on the tips of your toes book. Great overview of big wave surfing. The author follows the legend, Laird Hamilton around the globe to chase big waves.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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