Read These 3 Books on the Terror of Shark Attacks

Read These 3 Books on the Terror of Shark Attacks


Shark attacks, though rare, loom large in the American imagination. This weekend, those fears were realized when a 26-year-old man was killed in Massachusetts in the first attack in the state since 1936. Here are three books about sharks and their victims.

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CLOSE TO SHORE
The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916
By Michael Capuzzo
317 pp. Broadway Books. (2001)

The first recorded shark attacks in the United States happened in the New Jersey shore in July 1916, when a Great White swam to the beaches near Beach Haven and Spring Lake — and, incredibly, to a creek 11 miles inland — and killed four people. This book is a historical account of these attacks and the hunt that ensued. Capuzzo draws vivid portraits of the central characters involved (including the shark), and captures the national frenzy caused by the attacks.

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THE DEVIL’S TEETH
A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks
By Susan Casey
291 pp. Henry Holt & Company. (2005)

Readers fascinated by shark attacks may be disappointed to learn that not one person is eaten in the course of this book, according to our reviewer, but this “lively portrait of life among Northern California’s white sharks and the dogged researchers who study them indulges in just the right mix of anxiety, gore and reassuring shark science.” The Farallon Islands, a boat ride away from San Francisco Bay, are the only place white sharks can be observed behaving naturally in the wild, and for more than a decade in the late 1990s and early aughts, Peter Pyle, an ornithologist, and Scot Anderson, a renowned marine biologist, led the Farallon Islands White Shark Project, studying the species. Casey weaves natural history into her story and writes “charming” descriptions of the islands’ bird and marine life.

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JAWS
By Peter Benchley
311 pp. Doubleday. (1974)

Did you know the now iconic Steven Spielberg film was based on a book? For the uninitiated: The story takes place in a Long Island resort town and centers on chief of police Martin Brody, who closes the beaches after a shark attack proves fatal. The town’s civic leaders try to keep the fatality quiet so as not to affect the vacation season, but this proves difficult as the death toll rises. “Jaws” keeps a steady pace and provides “fluid entertainment,” wrote our reviewer, adding that “the shark is so menacingly adequate an embodiment of imagined malignity that, even though its attacks are telegraphed, they fix one’s attention.”



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