Reading Blog: Close To Shore by, Michael Capuzzo

The book “Close to Shore” ,by Michael Capuzzo, is about historical accounts of a series of shark attacks in the summer of 1916 when a rogue great white shark started hunting swimmers along the jersey shore. These attacks caused mass hysteria and fear of the ocean and ignited one of largest shark hunts in history.

The book begins with people not knowing much about great white sharks, only hearing stories about them being man eating monsters. Most people thought they weren’t real, they were only something you’d hear in stories like Moby Dick which told of giant white sharks or in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea which told of a “man eating fish” which “persisted in the machine age”. The sharks that most people knew about were smaller and usually didn’t harm humans. Many people were completely unaware of these sharks, they were just out for a summer day at the beach and were completely unaware of sharks.

The first attack killed Charles Vasant, many people did not know what killed him. The local fisherman thought it was a “giant sea turtle” and said that it was impossible for a shark to do that much damage. The attack was downplayed and was only reported in local newspapers and only got a four page report somewhere in the middle of the newspaper that stated it was “a mysterious attack at sea”. The New York Times only had a brief four paragraph story about the event stating that a Vansant “dies after attack by fish”. None of the newspapers that reported the incident stated the speculations of the baymen that it was a sea turtle or a shark. Nobody knew what fish was capable of tearing a man apart.

The next attack was an attack on a man named Bruder. The attack killed Bruder by tearing off part of his torso and his legs. A doctor was called in who had experience in fish attacks and in his autopsy report stated it was a shark attack which was the first ever medical report of a shark attack. Some denied it was a shark attack, “Old time fisherman insisted a shark attack was too far fetched to believe”(pg153). The ichthyologist, Dr. Nichols, suspected it was a killer whale because Bruder’s legs had been torn off in “dull, jagged cuts”(pg159). Whatever animal it was people were in disbelief at what it can do to a person. Reports of the attacks spread mass hysteria and left people in horror of the animal so badly that nobody wanted to go in the water anymore. People started locking themselves in their rooms or going in the pool instead of the ocean, “the pool at the bath and tennis club grew uncomfortably overcrowded”(pg167).

By this time the beaches were empty and some even closed down. Some beach resorts tried to justify why people should still swim in the ocean by putting up nets around the beach to stop sharks from getting in the swimming area. Others said that the water was too shallow to be attacked by a shark, although most shark attacks occur in shallow waters. Some people wanted to hunt the shark. The doctor who examined Bruders body was starting to create plans to organize a patrol with armed men and a fleet of boats to protect swimmers. The mayor and a member of the Asbury Park Fishing Club said they would “tow the carcasses of horses and cows to a remote area a quarter mile off of Sandy Hook”(pg190). Many sport fishermen were eager to try and catch the monster shark while members of the gun club were going to try and “eradicate all the man-eaters in the sea”. For many people the shark scare had become a reality.

The news of Bruder’s death had spread from local news to all along the east coast very quickly. Instead of just getting a small section of the paper, shark attacks now got entire pages and cover stories. When a large shark was swimming towards the shore to a group of people it was spotted and shot at by a police officer which caused it to swim away past the Robbins Reef Lighthouse. The news spread along the beach quickly and many people decided to quit swimming. Despite the heat the beaches were empty. An essay written by Annette Kellerman told about how people in Australia reacted to sharks and that “The shark to an Australian child occupies the same position as the bogeyman does to American children”(pg194).

During high tide the shark swam into a creek in a town called Matawan, killed two people and injured another. One of them was Stanley Fisher who was said to be the strongest man in the town and the other was a young boy. They set up a fence around the entrance to the creek so the shark couldn’t get out. People felt that it was personal because of how many people the shark hurt in so little time that after they heard that Stanley Fisher died the mayor set a bounty of $100 on the shark. The people “had no place to put fear into rage”(pg253). Soon everyone reported sharks swimming up the creek, attracted by all the dead fish and the splashing from the dynamite. A few days later a large hole was discovered in the wire fence and all the bait was gone. After this, shark hunting became one of the most popular pastimes of the summer. Many sharks were killed and their stomachs were slit open but the only thing that came out was fish, no human flesh.

The US Coast Guard had called its war off on sharks because they figured out it was only a single great white shark, as did John T. Nichols and Robert Cushman Murphy. Both of them loved the sea and neither of them was “disposed by nature to pursue the oceans largest and fiercest predator. Schleisser caught a shark and when he cut its stomach open he found bones that looked like human bones. Over the next few years sharks still scared people out of the water whenever a fin was spotted, by the end of the summer shark attacks had stopped going on the front pages and news about World War One had replaced it. People returned to the beaches, shark hunts stopped and as people became more educated they did not fear sharks anymore.


Brown’s extensive use of detail

The author of the book, “The Boys in The Boats”, Daniel James Brown, uses extensive detail talking about things like Joe’s rough childhood, the different backgrounds of the other oarsmen, and the play by play of the races. These details play important roles in the book like how they all come from different backgrounds but have to work together to row the boat faster than the others.

The author talks about Joe’s rough childhood because it’s what made joe who he was. When Joe was ten years old he was kicked out of his house for yelling at his younger brother, “He went back upstairs and told his son he would have to move out of the house.” This painted the picture in Joe’s head that the only person he could rely on was himself. This is why joe had a hard time rowing together with the other oarsmen, he thought that only he could win the race because he was raised having to depend on himself his whole life. However, Joe was sent to live in a schoolhouse but he had to chop enough wood to keep the large fireplace going in exchange for food and a place to sleep. All this work made Joe stronger and able to row really hard. Joe then learned that depending on others was important in life when he talked to the shell maker, Pocock. Pocock said, “The ability to yield, to bend, to give way, to accommodate, he said, was sometimes a source of strength in men as well as in wood, so long as it was helmed by inner resolve and by principle.” The author included that conversation Joe had with Pocock to tell the reader how Joe learned to rely on other people and work together with the other oarsmen to achieve their goal. This also helped Joe to rely on other people other than himself in life. The author also tells the background of the other oarsmen, how some are richer than others, and how they come from all different lifestyles and had different attitudes on life but they all worked together in harmony to row faster than the other oarsmen on the water.

Why the author chose to tell both stories.

In this novel, Brown chooses not only to tell the story of the Washington crew team, but to also devote a narrative space to Hitler, Germany, and the actions of the Nazi government before, during, and after the 1936 Olympics. I think the author chose to tell both stories to paint a picture of what times were like back then. Hitler thought that Aryan Germans were the superior race and he accepted to host the Olympics in Germany to prove that they were the superior race. The Washington crew disproved that by winning the gold medal in the Olympics, this disproved Hitler because one of the oarsmen, Bobby Moch, was Jewish, “Gaston Moch told his son, he was going to learn for the first time that he and his family were Jewish.” The author mentions things like what the nazis did to Jews like how “Jewish actors, writers, performers, teachers, civil servants, lawyers, and doctors had all been forced from their occupations and deprived of their livelihoods” to show what times were like back then and to show that Hitler was wrong.

Hitler hosed the games to show how Germany was the best nation with the best people in the world. The author says how the German olympians were handpicked and trained by the government which mean they were very athletic, he wrote about how large the Olympic stadium was to show that Germany, at the time, was wealthier than the United States. The author wrote about how rich Germany was and how athletic the German olympians were to show the challenges the rowing team had to overcome to win gold. “It was the perfect opportunity for Hitler to demonstrate to the world, how efficient nazi Germany was” (C.N., Truemen, “the 1936 Berlin Olympics“). Hitler had a grand stadium that could fit 100,000 people, the streets were cleaned and all the antisemitic signs were taken down to hide what the nazis were really doing to people so their was no problems. The only problem their was, was in the stadium when an African American named Jessie Owens won the gold medal against the German Lutz Lang in the long jump, Hitler refused to put it on him. Other countries who didn’t know what the nazi party was doing marveled at how clean Germany was. The author wrote about what the nazis did after to show how easily people can be fooled into thinking that people have peaceful intentions even though Hitler started a war soon after the 1936 Olympic Games.

Work cited

C.N., Truemen. “The 1936 Berlin Olympics“, The History Learning Site,

Aspects of life in the 1930’s

Luke Clark

Life was hard in the 1930’s, the stock market crash of October 29, 1929 left many people without jobs or money. More than 15 million Americans were unemployed, that’s a quarter of of all wage earning employers (, “The 1930’s“, 2010). The nation was unprepared for the crash, banks were unregulated and uninsured. When people stopped earning they also stopped spending which froze the consumer economy. This became the Great Depression which lasted throughout the 1930’s. Things like the drought in the Midwest created dust storms called “Black Blizzards” which made agriculture impossible. Many farmers had to move to cities looking for work.

The Great Depression made people learn to take nothing for granted and appreciate everything they had. Children had to grow up quickly and learn to be independent. The hard times during the 30’s are spoken about in the book, ,”The Boys in The Boats”. In the book, Joe’s mother, Thula, kicked ten year old Joe out of the house for yelling at eighteen month old brother, Mike who followed Joe into his garden imitating him “happily plucking half grown carrots out of the ground” (James Brown, Daniel. “The Boys in the Boats“, 35). Joe was sent to live in a school but in return for a place to sleep, “Joe was to chop enough kindling and split enough wood to keep the schools fireplace stoked day and night”(James Brown, Daniel. “The Boys in the Boats“, 36). During this time in exile from his family, Joe learned to depend on himself. He helped the company cook in exchange for food, and helped at the schoolhouse in exchange for a place to sleep.

America today is facing some of the problems we had in the 30’s. It’s hard for young people fresh out of college to get a stable job to earn money and live in a house. Like Joe, people today have to work extra hard to balance out school, their job, and sports. Things today have also gotten better, banks are insured and regulated and people can predict when the next crash will be and we will be prepared for it.

Work cited, “The 1930’s“, 2010,

James Brown, Daniel. “The Boys In The Boats, Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics“, published by Viking Penguin, 2014.

Francesco Redi’s Spontaneous Generation experiments. By: Luke Arroyo-Clark

9th grade Living Environment Project

Goal: pretend you are Francesco Redi and explain the popular belief in society at the time, explain your (Redi’s) beliefs, and a conclusion.


       Most people believe that small animals animals like flies, wasps, cicadas, spiders, ants, scorpions, and all the other grubs of the land and air are just spontaneously created from rotting meat, dirt, plants, and grain. Most people believe that mice come from piles of grain and wet cloths and flies and maggots come from rotting meat and that wasps are randomly generated from plant tissue and many other small animals that are randomly generated from the earth. 

       I believe that small animals are not spontaneously generated, but instead that all living things on this earth are the result of the real and true seeds of plants and animals themselves who conserve their species by means of their own.


I chose to experiment on how maggots come from rotten meat. I first put a piece of meat in a sterile jar for the control. I let it sit there in the jar for for two weeks. After two weeks I noticed maggots and flies emerging from the now rotten meat. 

As the independent variable I put a piece of meat in a sterile jar, then placed a piece of screen on top of the jar and let the meat sit in the jar with the screen on top for two weeks. After two weeks I noticed that flies were laying their eggs on the screen. I began to suspect that the flies payed their eggs based on the smell of the rotten meat rather than spontaneously generating in the meat.

As the dependant variable I chose to put piece of meat in a sterile jar and put a cork over the jar so the flies could not smell the meat. I left the meat in the jar for two weeks and when I came back their were no flies at all. Inside the meat or outside the jar. 


My conclusion is that flies and other animals do not spontaneously generate but instead are the seeds of plants and animals themselves who preserve their species by their own means and that meat and grass and all other putrefied or putrefiable things play no role in insect generation. Instead, those rotten and putrid things only provide a suitable place to nest which animals are drawn to at their time of birth. 


Technology, how it changed

Technology changes, or modifies, the natural world to meet human needs or solve problems. The goal of technology is to improve the way people live. Technology can be anything that makes life easier for humans. Fire was a breakthrough in technology that changed the human race for ever, fire provided light, cooking, and warmth. The telephone made it easier for people to communicate over long distances. Technology has changed greatly over the years.

Technology has become more compact and practical over the years. When computers were first created they were the size of a room, now they can fit in your pocket. Cars have gotten more efficient and faster. Technology in the military has also changed greatly, tanks were a big advantage on the battlefield, tanks have changed to go faster and have more armor instead of trading armor for speed. Radar made people able to detect planes from a distance without a direct line of sight, it also enabled people to “see” much farther than the human eye. Stealth technology made planes invisible to radar. Commercial travel has changed greatly. It has become safer, quicker, and more efficient. I think technology will continue to become more compact and more powerful. When I was born their was no smartphones, iPads or anything with touch screen. Now we have phones that are super thin and have the power to preform complex math equations.