The Wave

The Wave

In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean

Book - 2010
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This book is 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 have 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. The author follows this unique tribe of peoƯple as they seek to conquer the holy grail of their sport, a 100 Ưfoot wave. In this 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. The book portrays human beings confronting nature at its most ferocious.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, c2010.
ISBN: 9780767928847
Branch Call Number: 551.463 CA
Characteristics: p. cm.


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Nov 07, 2017

A totally fascinating book and very well written. Highly recommended.

Jul 30, 2016

Long the yarn of those who go down to the ocean and return to tell tall tales of things terrible, waves, especially rogue waves are not, it appears, the stuff of fiction but, rather, the stuff of science. These mammoth waves destroy ocean going vessels as though they were match sticks; they are capable of reaching far inland washing away entire cities; and yet they can be the delight of those who ride these waves, the surfer.
Wave is eminently readable yet highly informative. It is written by two story tellers: one is a fan of surfing, the other is a clear-eyed investigator of waves. And both are the same person. This book deserves your attention.

Jul 20, 2016

I wish the book was more about the science of waves and less about the surfing. The author goes into so much detail about the surfers: their clothes, their language, etc. I wish things had been more balanced.

PimaLib_ErikaJ Jun 04, 2015

Completely amazing. Susan Casey terrifies with descriptions of giant waves and the daredevil elite who attempt to surf them without dying horribly. If you have a vivid imagination and also suffer from bathophobia (fear of deep water), or specifically cymophobia (fear of waves), this book might be too intense for you!

Jul 23, 2014

One of the best books I've ever read! I love how it compares two different points of view on big waves - the surfers, and the scientists. Definitely an exciting read.

May 12, 2013

This is a great mix of surfing and science. It puts all the latest science together journalistic style. I loved the research that was done on rogue waves and giant waves. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves the ocean, physics or surfing.

JCLBarbG Mar 27, 2013

Great book for a mixed, female/male book club. Those of us from the Beach Boys era enjoyed the scientist meets surfer aspect.

Aug 15, 2012

I now know more about surfing then I ever thought possible! THought she could do a little less on the surfing - more about other effects of the waves - such as lost ships, tsunamis, etc.

BPLNextBestAdults Nov 15, 2011

Toronto-born journalist and author, Susan Casey tells the stories of big wave surfers and oceanographers, from Hawaii to Alaska to the tip of Africa. The book reveals the science of waves, i.e. giant water (the largest wave ever recorded is 1740 feet high!) including the challenges waves pose to shipping, and the stories of a group of surfers she shadowed for her story. She also interviews scientists exploring the danger that global warming will bring us more and larger waves. She makes the world of big wave surfers and the jargon of physicists engaging. It was interesting to join the world’s legendary surfers in their world. An approachable, engaging read. For more about the author:

Oct 21, 2011

I viewed interviews of Susan Casey with Jian Ghomeshi and John Stewart and I was intrigued, then someone lent me The Wave. The Wave is an interesting book about the science of waves (ocean current fluid dynamics) and big wave surfing. It highlights, in layman's terms, the present study of ocean waves and offers some shocking statistics regarding the frequency of large waves and their effects on the environment and the shipping industry. To keep things simple, Casey briefly discusses wavelength and period, which may leave some readers wondering about frequency, amplitude, phase velocity and group velocity, but they are essentially beyond the scope of this book and unnecessary given that the title indicates that we are looking for evidence of massive waves - waves so big that science can't fully explain them.

Further, the book documents the fascinating and somewhat esoteric world of the big wave surfer. We get a glimpse into the lives of several veteran big wave riders. Casey describes their exploits at various areas around the globe and - spoiler alert - it's pretty crazy (like, totally dude).

The book is broken into sections that discuss the "science" of waves and the "art" of riding them, and it's an interesting mix throughout the book. Casey is no slouch when it comes to descriptions, so we get fairly vivid face, body, and geographic mental images from her writing. You can improve the experience by reviewing many of these locations on a map, particularly the North shore of Maui (if you don't know where that is, then definitely get a map). The midsection of the book offers some tasty pictures of big waves, surfers, ships and damage caused by waves.

The Wave offers an interesting parallel between the geeky scientist and pro surfer. The scientists have their own community, with conferences, debate and analysis, and the surfers have their own version of the same thing with contests, funky language and cliquey group dynamics.

The clear difference between the surfers and scientists is funding: many of the surfers bemoan the popularity of their sport or their favourite location, yet this is what drives the surfing industry and the sponsorship marketing that provides them with their exotic livelihood. It's kind of hard to "keep it real" while competing to be on the cover of every surfer magazine.

Conclusion: take a look at a big wave surf video (youtube will do) and imagine what that sheer volume of water is like to ride or study, and imagine the kind of people that study it and ride it, what are their motivations, feelings, and experiences - to find out, you can start by reading The Wave.

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