Thursday, October 07, 2010

"The Wave" by Susan Casey

Recently finished reading "The Wave" by Susan Casey and enjoyed it quite a bit.

I heard about the book from an excerpt in Sports Illustrated (which I linked to and posted on last month) and was looking forward to reading the book even before I read the excerpt. One of the early posts I made to this blog was on Casey and her excellent book "The Devil's Teeth" about the Farallon Islands and the Great White Shark containing surrounding waters. From that book along with Casey writing I've seen in Sports Illustrated as well as Esquire, I consider her one of my favorite authors.

To the new book from Casey... really interesting read that's split between (A) giant waves and their impact... and (B) the people who surf them. I often felt like I was reading two different books joined together as the chapters would go from one on Laird Hamilton surfing Jaws off Maui to one on the very busy rescue and salvage operators who work out of Cape Town, South Africa. Pretty different topics, but everything that Casey wrote about was interesting enough to stand on it's own, and still worked together as part of a larger look at the power of the ocean.

The Sports Illustrated excerpt was excellent and almost exclusively focused on the big wave surfing content from the book (understandable since it's Sports Illustrated), but the bigger picture content in other parts of the book are fascinating.

More and more big waves coming due to climate change and oceans rising, large numbers of ships lost at sea every year, giant rogue waves that known models wouldn't have predicted the height of (including an 1,800 foot wave at Lituya Bay in Alaska)... all stuff that Casey details.

This is the non-surfing stuff, but there's also some extremely compelling content in the book on big wave surfing. Casey spent a large amount of time with Laird Hamilton... and retells the story of his surfing partner Brett Lickle almost bleeding out in a December 2007 day with 100+ foot waves on Giants off Maui. Just amazing content written about well...

Some places to go for addition content on the book and topic are the book website (which is pretty rudimentary), the associated Facebook page (which has a lot of good content) and Laird Hamilton's website.

Pretty wild subject matter and definitely worth reading about in Casey's book.