Sam Bauman: ‘The Perfect Storm’ is a near perfect book



I recently bought two books at the Senior Center bookstand. One I’ve commented about, Desmond Morris’ study about the differences between furless Homo sapiens, and the rest of the primates.

The other is from 1997 and is the story of a collection of storms off the U.S. East Coast that cost the lives of six men on a sword fishing boat named the Andrea Gail, a 65-foot steel boat.

Seniors will undoubtedly remember the news of the lost Andrea Gail.

“The Perfect Storm” was actually two weather fronts and a hurricane, all in the same area off Gloucester, Mass., in October 1991.

By Sebastian Junger, the story begins with life around the port city, Gloucester, home base to the swordfish fishermen.

The lives of the six crewmen are explored and the technical aspects of hooking and landing swordfish explained. And it’s a risky and demanding job, putting as many as 500 hooks on a mono filament line, adding bait all while cruising along in rough waves and wind.

As the Andrea Gail was not heard from after the storm, actual sinking is not detailed. But there are details about the efforts from the Coast Guard and Air Force in attempting to find the Andrea Gail as well as a lost Japanese fisherman and the efforts to help a stranded sailboat Satori in the area. An Air National Guard helicopter crashes and four crewmen survived.

This is all finely told in a triumph of journalism. The technical details are clearly detailed and the constant dangers of the sea and weather are graphically told.

A map shows the looping path of the hurricane which was between the Andrea Gail and safe harbor. Last radio contact with Andrea Gail was Oct. 28 at 6 p.m., after she had sailed for home Oct. 24. Fuel drums from the Andrea Gail were found inside the loop of the hurricane’s course after the storm blew itself out.

Of all the books that have read recently, “The Perfect Storm” was clearly the most exciting and gripping, exceeding spy thrillers easily. Author Junger has done a splendid job of putting it all together, from lives of those ashore to the incredible lives of men who go down to the sea in ships.

I cannot recommend this book to the high degree it deserves or the fine work of the author putting all sides of the story together.

There was a movie made from the book starring George Clooney among others. I’ve got to check Netflix because this story and the telling of it are so wonderful. Seniors will want to do the same.


I’ve used the VA facility in Reno for several years and I’ve been well served (not that in my youth I ever expected to use would use the VA).

I see a doctor there every six months. The lab checks my blood thinner levels monthly. I get my prescriptions by mail as soon as scheduled.

I’ve only had one bad experience with the VA and that was when I asked for updated hearing aids, according to their protocol. The new and expensive aids didn’t fit, kept falling out and they didn’t help my hearing.

It took Dr. Weeks of Carson City to make them work and tell me all the features they offered.

I’ve often praised the Reno VA but it was strictly anecdotal. So when the following news story was released from United Press International, I thought I would share:

“The U.S. Veterans Affairs health system performs as well as, if not better than, other healthcare systems, according to a review of medical records.

“Researchers at the RAND Corporation found the VA system is comparable in safety and efficiency despite more sick or have a wider range of conditions of previous research to make a comparison, such as in timeliness, efficiency and patient-centeredness.

“There also were some areas, such as surgical complications and availability of services, where results were less favorable, though the researchers say these reports were not consistently bad,” UPI reported.

“For the study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, researchers reviewed 69 studies conducted between 2005 and 2015 covering safety, efficacy, efficiency, patient-centeredness, equity and timeliness,” UPI reported.

“In terms of safety, the VA performed as well or better in 22 of 34 studies, though nine showed worse performance and three were a mixed bag,” UPI reported.

“Some studies found higher surgical mortality under VA care than non-VA care, though mortality rates have gone down over time more quickly at the VA than non-VA facilities. Like morbidity and complications from care, mortality was linked to type of procedure or condition being treated, making some results vary widely,” UPI reported.

“Outpatient care and screening was found generally to be better under care of the VA, with check-ups and tests for most conditions receiving higher marks than with non-VA healthcare,” UPI reported.

Incidentally, the Reno VA center is undergoing a multimillion-dollar expansion now.

Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.


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