Non-Fiction: History

Twelve Days of Terror

Written by: Dr. Richard G. Fernicola

Published By: The Lyons Press

Reviewed by Dorothy Doremus


            The summer of 1916 on the New Jersey shore would make history most would love to forget.  With World War I in full swing and a blistering heat wave in full effect, residents flocked to the shore in search of cool Atlantic breezes and refreshing ocean waters.  The ocean has allowed many people comforts from the heat long before the days of air conditioning Swimming was a favorite pastime for children and adults alike.  During the 1916 summer season however, there was an insidious predator patrolling the waters off Beach Haven, Spring Lake and Matawan Creek, New Jersey.  Before July was over, four people were dead and one severely injured.  The predator was a shark.

            In Twelve Days of Terror, Dr. Richard G. Fernicola provides several theories about the attacks - What kind of shark was attacking?  Why did this shark attack?  - along with several accounts from surviving relatives and friends.  Some of the witnesses were on the scene when the events unfolded on those summer days and were never able to forget the horrors of what occurred. 

            Dr. Fernicola has done his research well, studying autopsy reports to try and figure out if the wounds the victims received were coherent to the type of shark being blamed for the crime.  Most believe that the shark was captured by accident soon after the attacks, so it was hard to get the evidence Dr. Fernicola required to provide us with this great book.  It was believed that the killer shark was a Great White, however Dr. Fernicola makes a compelling argument that the Great White may not be the guilty species.

            Twelve Days of Terror is a great historical read.  It really captures the essence of 1916, a time of simplicity before the beaches icon were shroud in hysterical terror.  Dr. Fernicola really takes the time to explain shark species and their habits and build up his theories so that there is no rush to judgment.  In my opinion, this book reads like the movie Jaws.  Itís so similar that itís almost eerie.  Twelve Days of Terror is actually a bit scarier than Jaws because it really happened and the young souls attacked by this shark never had a chance.

            If you have a love for sharks and history, you should pick up Twelve Days of Terror.  The book was so good and the chapters flowed so well, I finished it within a week.  You wonít be able to put this one down.


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