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Nights of Ice: True Stories of Disaster and Survival on Alaska's High Seas [Paperback]

Spike Walker
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 15 1999
Spike Walker has spent more than a decade fishing in the subzero hell of Alaska's coastal waters. This collection--coming on the heels of his classic memoir Working on the Edge--is a testament to the courage of those who brave nature's wrath each fishing season, and to the uncontrolled power of nature herself.. The crewmen in Nights of Ice face a constant onslaught of roaring waves, stories-high swells, and life-stealing ice. Tested by the elements, these seamen battle for their vessels and their lives, on every page evincing a level of courage and a will to live seldom found elsewhere in modern society.

Frequently Bought Together

Nights of Ice: True Stories of Disaster and Survival on Alaska's High Seas + Coming Back Alive: The True Story of the Most Harrowing Search and Rescue Mission Ever Attempted on Alaska's High Seas
Price For Both: CDN$ 26.67


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Product Description

From Amazon

Frantic and entertaining in a guilty sort of way, Nights of Ice is like Endurance on steroids. The book presents eight true stories of disaster and survival involving commercial fisherman off the coast of Alaska (said to be one of America's most dangerous occupations). Included are tales of subzero temperatures, 100 mph winds, 60-foot-high waves, boats encased in ice and capsized, men trapped underwater, and other horrors. Author Spike Walker, who interviewed many of the survivors in compiling this book, is no stranger to such tales of the high seas; he worked as a commercial fisherman off the Alaska coast and wrote about it in Working on the Edge.

Nights of Ice begins promisingly enough but unfortunately gives way to a sensationalism that cheapens the whole affair: "At that moment, Bruce Hinman's past life flashed before his very eyes. Launched instantaneously through time, he watched the events of his life play out before him...they flashed and froze there in his consciousness, in a kind of nostalgic collage of all that had once mattered in his life." As a result, there are a lot of unintentionally funny moments. Despite its problems, though, Nights of Ice is fun to read, and lovers of true-adventure stories or those interested in the dangers of the Alaskan fishing industry should enjoy it. --Andy Boynton

From Library Journal

Stories of disaster and survival in commercial fishing boats working the Alaskan coast make up this sequel to Walker's Working on the Edge (LJ 6/15/91). These eight stories of fishermen whose trips went sour are harrowing, but the book's overall effect is numbing rather than exciting. Although no one would deny the suffering and loss experienced by the survivors, their stories are pretty much alike. Walker does not have a particularly deft style, nor, in this volume, does he provide any great insight into conditions in the king-crab trade. Only libraries that purchased the earlier book and are particularly interested in the subject should take the trouble to acquire this.?Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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For Joe Harlan, captain of the fifty-three-foot crab boat Tidings, and his crew, the 1989 Kodiak Island tanner crab season had been an exceptionally tough one. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars entertaining subject--marginal writing Sept. 4 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I read this on a trip to Alaska, so I got into it's "spirit" on location. The stories are quite entertaining, but when writers make junior-varsity comments and mistakes, it makes me wonder about the veracity of the actual stories:
1) Does everyone see their entire lives flash before their eyes when they are near death?
2) Some guy's one-year old child asks him if he is Santa Claus upon his return from an ordeal at sea. Clearly Spike has never spent time with a one-year old; not only can very few of them speak more than a word or two, but this one is so eloquent and knowledgeable that he thinks the old man is Kris himself!
3) The helicopter pilot makes it to a "small village airport" just before running out of fuel (which means it must have been between 5-10 minutes from the rescue locale since they only had 30 minutes of fuel left before the rescue attempt(hmmmm), but somehow a C-130 can get in and out of there to send them home while the chopper gets an inspection (hmmm hmmmm).
I'll leave it at that...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nights of Ice ... Spike Walker is great read April 3 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Having lived my entire life in and around Seattle, In March 2001, I ventured North to Alaska to visit my daughter and her family. While there I picked up "Nights of Ice".
Spike Walker's subject matter is, first of all, relevant to anyone who has lived near the sea. The Pacific Ocean, the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska, as one non-fisherman said, "I can't drink it all and I'm damned sure I can't swim that far."
Life at sea in a boat, rolling and plowing through the next wave, gets into some folks blood. I'm sure it's that way with fishermen and women but the money don't hurt either. In any case its a perilous life.
Nights of Ice takes us along for a ride with people, real people, who have experienced the worst the sea has to offer. Walker's intimate knowledge of workin' the boats has us searching for lights in a "can't see your hand in front of your face" stateroom, attempting, frantically, to pull on the survival suit. We are terrified of the boat goin' down with us still on board. We gasp for air and our heart seems to stop when we hit the 37 degree water. We, along with actual survivors, use every ounce of strength and resource our bodies are able to muster in order to survive.
Nights of Ice and its individual, sometimes heroic, stories are an adventure in itself.
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By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The fifth story titled "Lost and Adrift" is about the fishing vessel "Cloverleaf." Myself being, a former Coast Guardsman, stationed at air station Kodiak was launched out on this particular rescue. The book mentions petty officer Brian Blue as the air crewman who spotted Rick Laws in the water from the C-130. There was no petty officer Brian Blue aboard the C-130 on this mission and to the best of my knowledge from researching, there has been no Coast Gurdsman named Brian Blue in Coast Guard aviation. I was the one at the scanners window of the C-130 and was the one who spotted Rick Laws in the water on the second day of the rescue mission. I remember it well and can remember at least 3 names of the 7 cremembers on board the C-130. While preparing to drop the MA-1 kit (liferafts and survival gear) to Rick Laws from the ramp of the C-130 I also noticed Wink Cissel floating in the water. In the beginning of the book acknowledgements are credited to! the non-existent Brian Blue. The cover calls it to be true stories of survival disasters in Alaska, meaning that all the people used in the book should be factual names. I am Bruce Erb, the "Brian Blue" in the book. The third fisherman, Kim, who did not make it, was a friend and former Coast Guardsman assigned to the air station Kodiak.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This book will make you shiver! Oct. 12 2000
By TMac
Format:Paperback
I enjoyed this book alot. All the stories deal with survival at sea in the waters off Alaska. The stories are kind of repetitive but if you like the first one you'll like the rest. The thought of finding one's self in the frigid Alaskan waters will make you pull an extra blanket on while you read. My only real complaint is that I would have liked more details on the fishermen involved (background, etc) so it wouldn't just have been names floating out there in the ocean. Overall, highly recommended adventure reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I read the book in one sitting July 12 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Spike Walker has hit the nail on the head with his focus on the misery and pain of being a deckhand. Behind the glory of fast money and a romanticized way of life is the harsh reality of seasickness, sleep deprivation and cruel hazing by crewmates. As a former commercial fisherman I felt all of these feelings again when reading this book, but I could not put it down until it was finished. The danger is real and Spike does a masterful job of drawing the reader in. An authentic piece of work.
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