• Coming Back Alive

  • The True Story of the Most Harrowing Search and Rescue Mission Ever Attempted on Alaska's High Seas
  • By: Spike Walker
  • Narrated by: Paul Heitsch
  • Length: 8 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (150 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

When the fishing vessel La Conte sinks suddenly at night in 100-mile-per-hour winds and record 90-foot seas during a savage storm in January 1998, her five crewmen are left to drift without a life raft in the freezing Alaskan waters and survive as best they can.

One hundred fifty miles away, in Sitka, Alaska, an H-60 Jayhawk helicopter lifts off from America's most remote Coast Guard base in the hopes of tracking down an anonymous Mayday signal. A fisherman's worst nightmare has become a Coast Guard crew's desperate mission. As the crew of the La Conte begin to die one by one, those sworn to watch over them risk everything to pull off the rescue of the century.

Spike Walker's memoir of his years as a deckhand in Alaska, Working on the Edge, was hailed by James A. Michner as "masterful...will become the definitive account of this perilous trade, an addition to the literature of the sea." In Coming Back Alive, Walker has crafted his most devastating book to date. Meticulously researched through hundreds of hours of taped interviews with the survivors, this is the true account of the La Conte's final voyage and the relationship between Alaskan fishermen and the search and rescue crews who risked their lives to save them.

©2001 Spike Walker (P)2018 Tantor

What listeners say about Coming Back Alive

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding Story and Performance

Spike Walker's weaving of story has gotten so good over the years and his writing brings urgency and heart to the toughest USCG Alaska rescues in history. My hat is off those crews in a huge way. Paul Heitsch's performance is just terrific. He really understands how and when to impart urgency, compassion, machismo, sensitivity and thoughtfulness precisely where it's needed. He brings energy and propulsion, then lets the material breathe like the trough of a passing wave. Really a great narration of an engrossing book.

12 people found this helpful

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Hard

I wish someone had put this in their review, but nobody did, so I am going to do it. I only got through the first chapter/story and returned it. The story is amazing, narration perfect, however, the horrific tragedy that happens in just the first chapter left me unable to sleep. I realize harrowing is in the title, but I was under the impression (totally on me-not them) that SPOILER ALERT *** everyone survives. This review does not in any way take away from the book itself or the narrator, I just wish I had known ahead of time - I am uber sensitive and couldn't handle it.

6 people found this helpful

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unbelievable!! literally, edge of your seat!!

Narrator is so incredibly good. he takes you there, does the voices and it is right on. He is so good, you forget you're listening, it's almost like your watching. the writing and performance are so good. excellent book. I wish there were more volumes by this duo. the narrator is a SAG member, explains the excellent
job portraying several characters.

4 people found this helpful

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one of the best books I have listened to...

As a former USCG fixed wing pilot, I have immense respect for CG helo pilots. I have always said the most dangerous flying in all of the Military is a CG Helo pilot. Flying fixed wing formation is relatively easy compared to trying to fly formation from 200 feet at night, in a storm, and your reference is a red light on top of a pitching fishing boat in high seas, This gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.... In 6 years on active duty 1976-1982, there were 3 helo crashes that I knew the crews. Pat Rivas and I would go running during our lunch hours while at Cape Cod, Pat was the poster boy for USCG Helo Pilots! . I never knew the detail of his death until I read this book. This book reads like a novel. If you have any interest in USCG flying or rescues this is the book for you. My hat is off to all USCG helo drivers that have the courage to go out at night in a storm, knowing they may not come back.
S/P
Larry Post
CG Aviator 1873

3 people found this helpful

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Ljbrown - great story

Wow it was nice to read a true story that I could not put down. No boring moments. I appreciated the recognition and tribute that was given to the hard working Coast Guard- search and rescue.

2 people found this helpful

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  • MJ
  • 03-31-21

I had to remind myself to breathe at times

This is not a book you can multitask with! Gripping - heart pounding - well told! What brave people

1 person found this helpful

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Survival, hero’s and a work of art.

This book of survival is pure of spirit and full of adventure unlike any you might imagine because it is lived and told by hero’s.

1 person found this helpful

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Engaging

I found this book well written. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and then settles you back. I was a member of the Coast Guard and have sailed the gulf of Alaska. It truly expresses the moment and the truth of rescues made by our crews. Enjoyed it.

1 person found this helpful

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Solid, well written and clearly well researched.

Great read for anyone who likes non-fiction search and rescue stories. The writing was great and the narration was 10 out of 10.

1 person found this helpful

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I Love real story

Goods story line,kept me want to know how it ended. narrator was easy to listen to. I will look for more,by this author and this narrator.

1 person found this helpful