Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916

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Crown/Archetype, Jun 25, 2002 - History - 368 pages
16 Reviews
Combining rich historical detail and a harrowing, pulse-pounding narrative, Close to Shore brilliantly re-creates the summer of 1916, when a rogue Great White shark attacked swimmers along the New Jersey shore, triggering mass hysteria and launching the most extensive shark hunt in history.

In July 1916 a lone Great White left its usual deep-ocean habitat and headed in the direction of the New Jersey shoreline. There, near the towns of Beach Haven and Spring Lake--and, incredibly, a farming community eleven miles inland--the most ferocious and unpredictable of predators began a deadly rampage: the first shark attacks on swimmers in U.S. history.

Capuzzo interweaves a vivid portrait of the era and meticulously drawn characters with chilling accounts of the shark's five attacks and the frenzied hunt that ensued. From the unnerving inevitability of the first attack on the esteemed son of a prosperous Philadelphia physician to the spine-tingling moment when a farm boy swimming in Matawan Creek feels the sandpaper-like skin of the passing shark, Close to Shore is an undeniably gripping saga.

Heightening the drama are stories of the resulting panic in the citizenry, press and politicians, and of colorful personalities such as Herman Oelrichs, a flamboyant millionaire who made a bet that a shark was no match for a man (and set out to prove it); Museum of Natural History ichthyologist John Treadwell Nichols, faced with the challenge of stopping a mythic sea creature about which little was known; and, most memorable, the rogue Great White itself moving through a world that couldn't conceive of either its destructive power or its moral right to destroy.

Scrupulously researched and superbly written, Close to Shore brings to life a breathtaking, pivotal moment in American history. Masterfully written and suffused with fascinating period detail and insights into the science and behavior of sharks, Close to Shore recounts a breathtaking, pivotal moment in American history with startling immediacy.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nancynova - LibraryThing

Very well written book about places close to my home 100 years ago. The book describes in detail what West Philadelphia was like in 1916, then the family goes "down the shore" - as we always called it ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - la2bkk - LibraryThing

One of two seminal books on the 1916 New Jersey shark attacks, both of which are excellent. Previous reviews set forth the appeal of this book, which is well written in a style that seems like ... Read full review

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About the author (2002)

Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize four times and a National Magazine Award finalist, Michael Capuzzo has been a feature writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Miami Herald. His stories have also appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Life, and Reader's Digest. He lives with his wife and two children in rural New Jersey.

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