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58 Degrees North : The Mysterious Sinking of the Arctic Rose
In the spring of 2001, an industrial fishing trawler went down in the icy waters just below the Arctic Circle, with its position last recorded at 58 degrees north. The Arctic Rose sank so abruptly that there was not even time to put on survival suits or call for help, and all fifteen men aboard were killed. Hugo Kugiya's book is a powerful story of adventure and disaster, illuminating how the modern industrial fishing industry gave rise to these fifteen young men's dangerous and strangely archaic life, and tracing the Coast Guard investigation into what really sank the Arctic Rose.
The subtitle of this Perfect Storm descendant is not entirely accurate: after an exhaustive search and rescue, the Coast Guard found no survivors (and only one body) among the 15 men aboard the Bering Sea trawler, but after an even more exhaustive investigation, they concluded that the probable cause was a combination of poor design, uncertain maintenance and too many inexperienced crewmen. Journalist Kugiya, who covered the 2001 tragedy for Newsday, occasionally aims at a kind of mythic drama (fishermen are "the last hunters, the last cowboys," the kind of men "who wear their own severed fingers around their necks as lucky charms"), but his account, while highly readable, can be a bit jumbled. Narratives of events such as the attempts to examine the wreck with remote-controlled cameras are interspersed with biographies of the crew and facts about the American fishing industry. Even some of the stronger subsections have weak spots, such as the capsule look at WWII in the Aleutians that's squeezed into a fine description of Dutch Harbor, the major Alaskan fishing port. But the portraits of the doomed fishermen-Capt. Dave Randall, Mexican immigrant Angel Mendez (seen mostly through the eyes of his widow), amiable drifter Eddie Haynes-grip and fascinate. The book isn't flawlessly executed, but it's bound to suck in maritime buffs. Agent, Sally Wofford-Girand. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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March 20, 2006
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