After the Storm : True Stories of Disaster and Recovery at Sea

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9780071427920: After the Storm : True Stories of Disaster and Recovery at Sea

"Vivid, wise, and heartfelt. The crowning achievement of one of America's foremost sailing writers." --Nathaniel Philbrick, National Book Award-winning author of In the Heart of the Sea

"As captivating as it is unusual. Rousmaniere's descriptions of hurricanes and shipwrecks are among the best in the literature of the sea, but his book is far more than a sea story." --Philip Caputo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Rumor of War and The Voyage

After the Storm is John Rousmaniere's most ambitious work ever, the unique expression of a master storyteller. Each of the book's stories of seafaring disaster--many little known, all of deep human interest--tells of the hopes and choices that put these sailors in harm's way and shows us the immense and unopposable power of the sea. After the Storm combines all the harrowing twists of the best adventure writing with a search for meaning on multiple levels.

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From the Inside Flap:

Few stories have more power to thrill and horrify than those of human struggle against storms at sea--frail sailors in their cockleshell ships fighting a chaotic, overwhelming force that, John Rousmaniere tells us, can be "as indifferent to normal order as a war." When the last survivor is ashore and the last victim is memorialized, we feel horror and also relief. But though the storm may last only hours, the roots of the storm story reach far back in time, and the consequences ripple outward long after the last wave rolls by. The real stories of people and ships, of dreams and seamanship, of loss and recovery are richer, deeper, more complex, and at once more disturbing and rewarding than a mere headline suggests.

John Rousmaniere is considered by many to have originated the storm-writing genre with his classic Fastnet, Force 10, which the Los Angeles Times praised as "a narrative worthy of the best sea literature." In his new book, his most ambitious work ever, he takes storm stories to a new level of revelation and universality. After the Storm is the expression of a master storyteller and the ultimate consequence of Rousmaniere's own experience in the Fastnet storm. "I can testify that storms change lives," he says in the Introduction, "because one changed mine."

In the book's interrelated stories, he tells of the hopes and choices that put sailors in harm's way, and then takes us into the gales themselves with authoritative knowledge of horrific weather and the split-second decisions that seafarers must make in appalling conditions. He explores the consequences of these disasters for survivors, rescuers, families, communities, and, in some cases, nations. And he shows how storm experiences shape reputations and beliefs, often creating myths springing from the hunger for explanation.

The pursuit of these interconnected strands draws the reader deep into our ambivalent relationship with the sea as both "destroyer and preserver." The stories include a tragedy that destroyed a prominent Boston family; the Pacific typhoon that stopped America's first war with Germany; the disappearance of the Portland--"New England's Titanic"; the worst noncombatant disaster in U.S. Navy history; the stormy deaths of a poet (Percy Bysshe Shelley) and a visionary (Margaret Fuller); the gale that redeemed a prophet after nearly destroying him; the storm off Newfoundland that inspired the hymn "Amazing Grace"; and two wrenching tales of derelict ships.

With all the harrowing twists of the best adventure writing and the shattering impact of a storm at sea, After the Storm is a moving, provocative exploration of the roots and consequences of sudden tragedy in human affairs. It keeps searching after other storm books end.

"A thinking person's Perfect Storm. Rousmaniere extrapolates from individual accounts of horrifying events at sea to trace a history of human interpretations of the meaning of life and death on the vast deep."

--Daniel Finamore, Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History, Peabody Essex Museum

"If survival storms have indeed become a genre unto themselves, this is the author who invented the genre with Fastnet, Force 10. Now, more than twenty years later, he's reinventing it all over again, showing us stories of survival and loss we thought we knew in a whole new light, finding others we should never have lost and need to learn again."

--Charles Doane, senior editor, SAIL magazine

An exploration of loss and recovery by one of America's finest nautical writers

"Among writers who sail and sailors who write, John Rousmaniere is unrivaled in his technical expertise, his breadth of thought and feeling, and in his vigor and lucidity as a storyteller. After the Storm is his best book yet. Because this is Rousmaniere, there are enough finely described high winds and toppling waves here to satisfy the toughest and most fearless armchair adventurers. But the storm at sea is for Rousmaniere only the beginning. His quest for meaning in the chaos of turbulent air and water is conducted on so many fronts that the reader is left breathless and dazzled by this marvelous inquiry."

--Jonathan Raban, author of Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings and Bad Land: An American Romance

"No one writes about the violence of the sea better than John Rousmaniere, and he proves it again and again in After the Storm.

--Stuart Woods, author of Blue Water, Green Skipper and The Short Forever

"As captivating as it is unusual. Rousmaniere's descriptions of hurricanes and shipwrecks are among the best in the literature of the sea, but his book is far more than a sea story . . . "

--Philip Caputo, Pulitzer Prize - winning author of A Rumor of War and The Voyage

"Dynamic, complex, and relentlessly surprising. As Rousmaniere skillfully observes, the most remarkable thing about an offshore tempest is what it does to the people left in its wake."

--Herb McCormick, sailing correspondent, New York Times

From the Back Cover:

"I can testify that storms change lives, because one changed mine."--John Rousmaniere, from the Introduction

John Rousmaniere's classic Fastnet, Force 10, which the Los Angeles Times called "a narrative worthy of the best sea literature," established him as one of the foremost nautical writers of our time. In After the Storm, his most ambitious work yet, his quest for meaning amid chaos takes storm stories to a new level of revelation and universality. After the Storm is a moving, provocative exploration of the roots and consequences of sudden tragedy in human affairs.

"Vivid, wise, and heartfelt. The crowning achievement of one of America's foremost sailing writers."--Nathaniel Philbrick, National Book Award - winning author of Into the Heart of the Sea

"As captivating as it is unusual. Rousmaniere's descriptions of hurricanes and shipwrecks are among the best in the literature of the sea, but his book is far more than a sea story."--Philip Caputo, Pulitzer Prize - winning author of A Rumor of War and The Voyage

"Among writers who sail and sailors who write, John Rousmaniere is unrivaled in his technical expertise, his breadth of thought and feeling, and in his vigor and lucidity as a storyteller. His best book yet."--Jonathan Raban, author of Passage to Juneau and Bad Land

"A thinking person's Perfect Storm."--Daniel Finamore, Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History, Peabody Essex Museum

"No one writes about the violence of the sea better than John Rousmaniere, and he proves it again and again in After the Storm."--Stuart Woods, author of Blue Water, Green Skipper and The Short Forever

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