Modern history

Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916

Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916

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.

For Americans celebrating an astoundingly prosperous epoch, fueled by the wizardry of revolutionary inventions, the arrival of this violent predator symbolized the limits of mankind's power against nature.

Interweaving 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, Michael Capuzzo has created a nonfiction historical thriller with the texture of Ragtime and the tension of Jaws. 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.

The Last Man in the Water

Part One - An Erratic Era

Chapter 1. The Hotel

Chapter 1. The Fish

Chapter 2. The Doctor

Chapter 3. The Biter with the Jagged Teeth

Chapter 4. To Be Different from What Has Been

Chapter 5. The Most Frightening Animal on Earth

Chapter 6. A Train to the Coast

Chapter 7. The Sea Monster

Chapter 8. Paradise

Chapter 9. Twins of Darkness

Chapter 10. Red in Tooth and Claw

Chapter 11. A Doctor in the House

Part Two - A Reign of Terror

Chapter 12. Screams for Rescue

Chapter 13. Fears Only Thinly Veiled

Chapter 14. Independence Day

Chapter 15. The Distance Swimmers

Chapter 16. To Find Prey

Chapter 17. The Red Canoe

Chapter 18. The Grande Dame

Chapter 19. The Scientist

Chapter 20. Arrival of a Man-Eater

Chapter 21. Myths of Antiquity

Chapter 22. A Long-Range Cruising Rogue

Chapter 23. A Great Many Bathers Are Rather Scarce

Chapter 24. Disporting in a Perfect Surf

Part Three - To Destroy No More

Chapter 25. Toward the World of Men

Chapter 26. The Beloved Heart of the Town

Chapter 27. Alien World

Chapter 28. The Creek

Chapter 29. Under a Full Moon

Chapter 30. Like a Cat Shakes a Mouse

Chapter 31. A Splendid Type of Young Manhood

Chapter 32. Fleeing for Safety

Chapter 33. To See Its Body Drawn Up on the Shore

Chapter 34. Intense with Need

Chapter 35. To Drive Away the Sharks

Chapter 36. Something Peculiarly Sinister

Chapter 37. Like a Tale from the Stone Age

Selected Bibliography