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Editorial 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

Critic Reviews

“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 Ratings

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  • Story

Very exaggerated science and anecdotal information.

The reader amplifies the exaggerated tales and school girl crush for Hamilton. I would not recommend this book if you are looking for science of waves, although there is some wave physics in the book. It does a good job of identifying some of the largest wave locations, but trails off to eye witness accounts (not accurate science), and lost ships due to global warming.

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The Wave blows you away

The Wave is an exciting and interesting read, full of great ocean and wave stories. As Susan Casey travels the world with surfers and scientists tracking big waves, freak waves and exploring the reasons for their existence, we gain an understanding of the world of water, its energy and spirit.
Packed with fascinating and well researched information, the book is presented in a personable style. Casey is always respectful of the ocean and the people whose stories are linked with it.

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Too much surf

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Would try to have more at sea,ocean info and less surfing stories.If you want to write about waves and surfing stick to surfing.

If you’ve listened to books by Susan Casey before, how does this one compare?

havent

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

performance was good

Any additional comments?

When I think of waves I think of big sea stuff...not that surfing 100 ft waves is small but I was looking for more of the out on the desolate ocean perspective. It does have sea/ocean data and stories but not what I was looking for.Haven't finished the book yet but it is falling short of my expectations.

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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.

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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.

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Entertaining

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

This book was a good "time off" from more mentally challenging reads. It has interesting parts although at times the "awsomeness" of the watermen and their heroics is a bit repetitive and overdone. They are certainly people that are passionate about what they do and are completely honest about it but, bottom line, they ride those monsters out of free will. I personally found more interesting the parts regarding rescue teams and other water professionals and I think the book could have given those a bit more attention.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

She could have been more forgiving about the "dude talk" of certain characters.

Was The Wave worth the listening time?

Yes it was, I enjoyed it.

Any additional comments?

The book was fun and it gives some easy insight on several topics regarding climate change and hazards at sea. Also the stories of some wave riding accomplishments are honestly fun to listen to and I couldn't help feeling respect for all the book's characters. The narrator does a good job even considering the "dude" parts. I gave three overall stars due the lack of a message... or maybe I didn't get it, so I suggest you try read it if you haven't.
You will enjoy it.

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  • Dan
  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 10-18-13

The perfect mix of science and stories

Where does The Wave rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It would rank among one of my favourite books all time.

What other book might you compare The Wave to and why?

Similar to John Krakauer. The author documents their research, while telling a story, to complete a journey.

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?

Just pure enjoyment. I learned a lot. I was inspired. I was awed and amazed.

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  • BP
  • New York, NY
  • 10-09-12

I have new respect and (fear) of ocean...

Would you consider the audio edition of The Wave to be better than the print version?

I like the audio in general and I never read this book in the print

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

stories about lardge wave surfers

What about Kirsten Potter’s performance did you like?

good job in general

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

It scared me...

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  • Jennifer
  • Jubilee Pocket, Australia
  • 04-17-12

Capturing throughout, very well written.

I listened to 'The Wave' while sailing my 28ft sailing boat from The Bahama's to Louperon, Dominican Republic. It was great to listen to throughout the nights, and a little eerie to think of what was going on in the deep depths below my little home. With no land or anyone else in site, I was completely en captured in 'The Wave'. I highly recommend it, especially to friends sharing a similar experience.

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Great book

Absolutely great. The reader can't seem to pronounce any Hawaiian name, and she also has trouble with simple nautical terms, but despite that annoyance the listen is excellent. Susan Casey wrote a terrific book.