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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

3.9 (393 )
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  •  
    Alan saltspring island, British Columbia, Canada 01-21-11
    Alan saltspring island, British Columbia, Canada 01-21-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Mistitled - its all about surfers, little on waves"

    i bought this under the impression it was about waves. no its about bodies carved from granite, flashing smiles etc. etc.

    no bland cliche about surfers is left unsaid. every dreary conversation recorded "that was real", "real gnarly". "his phone rang in the next room" with no sequitor.

    unfortunately no conversation of any interest was included. maybe the editor was unable to deal with polysyllabic dialogue.

    this book has been written to be read with a clanging 140db soundtrack of thrash metal playing in the background and immediately forgotten.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Giselle Mountain View, CA, United States 01-17-11
    Giselle Mountain View, CA, United States 01-17-11
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    "If you liked Born to Run..."

    Then meet "The Wave." Another sports-related book that looks at the science, economics and personalities around big wave surfing. You come away feeling all-around smarter about the ocean, more fired up about surfing and inspired by these wave-riding cowboys who push their bodies and mankind to the limits.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DJM San Francisco, Ca USA 12-21-10
    DJM San Francisco, Ca USA 12-21-10 Member Since 2014
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    "Great tale, dismal narration"

    Great description of the science and recreation of big waves. However, never have I heard so many Hawaiian words pronounced so badly by the narrator. Kirsten Potter could have saved herself considerable embarrassment if only she had spent five minutes running the names of local venues past even the most minimally informed Hawaiian tourist.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Willits, CA, United States 12-21-10
    Chris Willits, CA, United States 12-21-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sounds good - audilbe failure"

    This sounded interesting however Audible will not let me download it after purchase. I am not sure what is wrong - but I am not happy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Camille 12-11-10
    Camille 12-11-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Scientific enough"

    Okay so it is not chock full of science, but it is scientific enough for someone who had a few geology classes in college to be reacquainted with familiar terms and events. The book also follows some interesting surfers and their experiences riding giant waves. Personally I thought it was a nice mix of people and science. For any geology teachers out there, this book has extra credit written all over it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth LEESBURG, VA, United States 10-19-10
    Kenneth LEESBURG, VA, United States 10-19-10 Member Since 2010

    Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining.

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    "Fun and Nearly Inter-Generational"

    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%.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betty A. Wright Sugar City, ID United States 10-12-10
    Betty A. Wright Sugar City, ID United States 10-12-10 Member Since 2008

    pony rider

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    "too much surfing, not enough science"

    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.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erik Corona, CA, United States 02-01-11
    Erik Corona, CA, United States 02-01-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Great Listen. And Relisten."

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Don Lance Murfreesboro, TN United States 02-16-12
    Don Lance Murfreesboro, TN United States 02-16-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Too Much About Surfing"

    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.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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