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by ryan dacko
'1,100 men went into the water...’ So begins the critically acclaimed and haunting monologue by actor Robert Shaw as grizzled shark hunter Quint in the movie Jaws, in which he describes his experience as a survivor of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in the dying days of the Second World War.
The Indianapolis was returning from delivering the first atomic bomb to Tinian, and on its way to the Philippines, when a Japanese submarine hit it with two torpedoes. The ship sank in twelve minutes, leaving hundreds of crew floating in the ocean with hardly any food, water or lifeboats.
During the next five days most died from a combination of exposure, salt poisoning, dehydration and the worst mass shark attacks in recorded history. Only 316 of 1,195 crew survived. This historic event provides the motivation for Quint’s iconic character in Jaws.
As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of Jaws, the first summer blockbuster, author and host of the podcast ‘The Jaws Obsession’ Ryan Dacko has written the definitive prequel novel to the movie, telling the story of Quint.
Beginning with him adrift in the Philippine Sea after the sinking, and after the end of the war following him first to San Francisco and then to Amity Island, we read of how and when he acquires his many scars, how he comes to own his boat, the Orca, and how he develops his technique for hunting sharks as seen in the movie.
Along the way we meet figures from history such as Charles McVay, captain of the doomed Indianapolis, and characters from the movie Jaws such as Larry Vaughn, the slippery mayor of Amity Island, ichthyologist Matt Hooper and Quint’s mate Hershel Salvatore.
This novel, the result of extensive research by the author, expands the Jaws universe, and adds crucial backstory that enhances the experience of watching what many still consider to be the greatest movie ever made. It is a story of overcoming odds, survivor’s guilt, PTSD, one man’s quest for justice, and lots of sharks.
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