Blew through this book in four days--great read. The movie was entertainment, the book is a freight train. It won't stop for anything. The book's not really about the storm, it's about the men and women who got stuck in it, who lived through it or didn't. It's better than reality TV--it's reality period. Sebastian Junger starts the book with a quote from a seaman who penned his last words in 1896 as his ship went down on Georges Bank in the North Atlantic.
On Georges Bank with our cable gone and our rudder gone and leaking. Two men have been swept away and all hands have been given up as our cable is gone and our rudder is gone. The one who picks this up let it be known. God have mercy on us.
He wrote it on a note. It went in a bottle and was actually found. Then it went in the book. Now it's here on the Net.
Movies often portray feats of physical courage, by soldiers or cops, but there's a different sort of fascination we have with the courage of people who know the end has come, yet who still take the chance (a short chance) to share their thoughts. We treat those last words with a bit of reverence. It's more than just curiosity, it's the law [hearsay statements made under the belief of impending death are deemed admissible]. It drives the fascination in the media with suicide notes. Did she leave a note? Something to explain why she did what she did? Like why should anyone leave a note? Because we want to know what someone, what anyone would say in such an unfortunate situation.
We know what that fisherman in 1896 said. What would I say? Anyone? It doesn't require a perfect storm and a ship at sea, of course. Sooner or later, we all go down with the ship. So we'll get our chance. Here's what Junger said about the courageous sailor who shared his parting thoughts with us:
This was the end, and everyone on the boat would have known it. How do men act on a sinking ship? Do they hold each other? Do they pass around the whiskey? Do they cry? This man wrote.
There's something to be said for writing.