Cover image for Breakers : a novel
Breakers : a novel
McCloskey, William B., 1928-
Publication Information:
New York : Lyons Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xiv, 350 pages : maps ; 24 cm
Geographic Term:
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Bill McCloskey's novel Highliners established him as one of the foremost chroniclers of Alaska and earned raves and a loyal following for its exuberant, authentic depiction of life in America's most dangerous profession - commercial fishing. Now Breakers picks up where Highliners left off, following the fortunes of fisherman Hank Crawford, his wife Jody, iron-nosed cannery manager Swede Scorden, and the other vivid characters who make their living from the sea. Hank has come far from his days as a greenhorn. A skipper with his own boat and crew, he's taken on a whole new set of responsibilities - a third child, a brand-new boat, a dream house, and plenty of bank loans. It all seems manageable as long as the seemingly endless hauls of crab and salmon keep flowing in. Then, suddenly as a winter squall, trouble hits. Hank's boat is damaged; his youngest child falls ill; a devastatingly poor crab season brings little income; salmon prices plummet. During a trip to Japan, a troubled Hank is tempted to compromise his business ethics to save his boat - and drawn into a careless romance that could cost him the wife and family he loves. Breakers captures the excitement and danger of the fisherman's trade; the massive crab pots that can crush an unwary man in a moment; the homecoming celebrations in the Kodiak bars; the clashes between the fishermen and the foreign fleets that use legal loopholes to plunder American waters; the exhilarating abundance of an Alaskan fishing season in full swing; and the terrible fury of a storm sweeping against a twenty-foot tide. It is also a captivating portrait of a good man at a moral crossroads.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

For fans of the Maryland writer's novel Highliners, it's about time: that novel was published a generation ago (1979, to be exact). Now Alaska fisherman Hank Crawford returns, no longer a young greenhorn. Hank's third child is on the way, he's about to buy a new boat and a new house, and he seems poised for financial security at last--until a spectacularly dismal season forces him to choose between failure and a deal with his bitterest enemies. McCloskey, a former merchant seaman and commercial fisherman, apparently knows the business inside out. Although it's about one man's story, this extremely well written novel tells a larger tale, too: the saga of Alaska's commercial fishing business, fighting for survival in a business increasingly dominated by foreign interlopers. In McCloskey's hands, it becomes the stuff of great drama, a cut-throat business in which ethics are as malleable as the softest putty and where, as Hank Crawford discovers, the line between success and failure is as thin as a knife's edge. An excellent novel about a fascinating business. --David Pitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

Riding the wave of recent marine adventure bestsellers, A Perfect Storm and The Hungry Ocean, McClosky offers an accomplished sequel 20 years after his highly praised 1979 title, Highliners, again portraying the world of an Alaskan sea fisherman. Protagonist Hank Crawford has become a full-fledged fisherman, skipper of his own boat, and has expanded his horizons considerably since the first book, with a new house, and a third child for him and his wife, Jody. His luck turns sour, however, when the boat gets grounded in a winter storm and the fishing hits the skids. Falling behind on his payments, Crawford succumbs to the lure of a lucrative fishing venture for the Japanese, but the trip to Japan to negotiate the terms results in an ill-fated affair that almost costs him his marriage. The thrill of the new business venture founders when Crawford realizes that he's embroiled in an ongoing battle between Japanese and American fishermen, and that he is expected to exert his influence on the Americans to favor the Japanese fish market. In addition, his own local fishing community views him as a traitor for working with the rival enterprise. Crawford battles successfully to put his marriage back together, but the uphill fight to make ends meet continues, until his perspective is changed by a devastating storm that forces him to undertake a dangerous rescue mission to save a former fishing friend. McCloskey's tale captures the bitter realities and joyful rewards of a fisherman's life, offering winning, gritty portrayals of gruff Crawford, practical Jody and other local characters that make life on the sea so colorful. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved