Synopses & Reviews
When the fishing vessel La Conte sinks suddenly at night in one-hundred-mile-per-hour winds and record ninety-foot seas during a savage storm in January 1998, her five crewmen are left to drift without a life raft in the freezing Alaskan waters and survive as best they can.
One hundred fifty miles away, in Sitka, Alaska, an H-60 Jayhawk helicopter lifts off from America's most remote Coast Guard base in the hopes of tracking down an anonymous Mayday signal. A fisherman's worst nightmare has become a Coast Guard crew's desperate mission. As the crew of the La Conte begin to die one by one, those sworn to watch over them risk everything to pull off the rescue of the century.
Spike Walker's memoir of his years as a deckhand in Alaska, Working on the Edge, was hailed by James A. Michner as "masterful . . . will become the definitive account of this perilous trade, an addition to the literature of the sea." In Coming Back Alive, Walker has crafted his most devastating book to date. Meticulously researched through hundreds of hours of taped interviews with the survivors, this is the true account of the La Conte's final voyage and the relationship between Alaskan fishermen and the search and rescue crews who risk their lives to save them.
"The episode in which the crew is finally forced to abandon their vessel in 40-degree water, and to stay lashed together long enough for three Coast Guard teams to attempt wind-whipped rescues, is harrowing and suspenseful. Still, too many adverbs slow down the narrative and strain to convey tension." Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Spike Walker has spent more than a score of seasons working as a deckhand aboard commercial fishing boats in Alaska. He has voyaged across storm-tossed seas from the ports of Kodiak in the Gulf of Alaska, to Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, and north, across the Bering Sea, to the edge of the polar ice cap in search of king crab, halibut, and codfish. Now a full time writer, Mr. Walker is the author of Working on the Edge and Nights of Ice, about the lives of commercial fisherman in Alaska. He divides his days between Clatskanie, Oregon; Castle Rock, Washington; and Kodiak, Alaska.