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Sowbelly: The Obsessive Quest for the World-Record Largemouth Bass
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About the Author

A devoted angler and outdoorsman, Monte Burke has written many articles for Field & Stream and other periodicals.

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Burke, "a devoted angler" and a Forbes staff writer, chases down the most famous characters in the years-long quest to top the world record for biggest largemouth bass, at 22 pounds, four ounces, set in 1932 by a 20-year-old Georgia farmer under now-questionable conditions. Burke admirably brings to life the people who enter into such a chase, and he finds good drama in the techniques and sacrifices necessary to pursue such a goal. Readers meet Bob Crupi, a Los Angeles cop whose single-minded pursuit of the record provides an escape from his stressful job, but also threatens his marriage and makes him a stranger to his kids. There's also Mike Long, whom Burke calls "the best big-bass fisherman alive, period" because of the number of largemouth Long has yanked out of the waters of Southern California. Long's fame and reputation have allowed him to cast with the likes of Robin Williams and Nick Lachey, but that fame comes at a price, as would-be record-breakers clog the lakes and ponds Long frequents, threatening to steal his big haul. Throughout, Burke sprinkles ruminations on the science and details of bass fishing, nicely sewing together a well-paced tale about "what we humans will do, what we will gain and what we are willing to sacrifice, in attempting to reach a goal." (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

With the possible exception of trout, no species of freshwater fish looms larger in the minds of American anglers than bass. Certainly, from the standpoint of record fish, no freshwater species even approaches the fascination of the record-holding catch made by Georgia's George Washington Perry in 1932. The 22-pound, four-ounce trophy, which was weighed and then promptly eaten, has been a source of inspiration for countless fishermen. Burke, an experienced fisherman and sporting journalist, chronicles the national quest to break the record. There's a great chapter on Perry (strangely placed in the middle of the book) and fine coverage of some obsessed individuals who hope to best him. Meanwhile, we learn about projects to breed super bass, delve into a grand angling addiction, discover the huge dollar signs that will come with breaking the record, and enjoy fine reading about a great sport fish. Recommended for public libraries.-Jim Casada, Past President, Outdoor Writers Assn. of America, Rock Hill, SC Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"An artful narrative."--The Wall Street Journal

"In Burke's hands, the biggest fish stories become human stories, at once optimistic and tragic, about what keeps us casting into the water of a dream."--Forbes "A window to a very small universe where obsession, greed, and chicanery coexist with a strange nobility . . . Sowbelly is a fascinating examination of obsession even for readers who don't fish."--St. Petersburg Times "Monte Burke is the Homer of America's fishing world as he takes us on an epic journey filled with great drama, colorful characters, and elusive largemouth bass." --Tom Brokaw "Burke, 'a devoted angler' and a Forbes staff writer, chases down the most famous characters in the years-long quest to top the world record for biggest largemouth bass, at 22 pounds, four ounces, set in 1932 by a 20-year-old Georgia farmer under now-questionable conditions. Burke admirably brings to life the people who enter into such a chase, and he finds good drama in the techniques and sacrifices necessary to pursue such a goal. Readers meet Bob Crupi, a Los Angeles cop whose single-minded pursuit of the record provides an escape from his stressful job, but also threatens his marriage and makes him a stranger to his kids. There's also Mike Long, whom Burke calls 'the best big-bass fisherman alive, period' because of the number of largemouth Long has yanked out of the waters of Southern California. Long's fame and reputation have allowed him to cast with the likes of Robin Williams and Nick Lachey, but that fame comes at a price, as would-be record-breakers clog the lakes and ponds Long frequents, threatening to steal his big haul. Throughout, Burke sprinkles ruminations on the science and details of bass fishing, nicely sewing together a well-paced tale about 'what we humans will do, what we will gain and what we are willing to sacrifice, in attempting to reach a goal.'"--Publishers Weekly "Those who think largemouth-bass fishing is a minor hobby should explain that to the 11.3 million 'hard-core' bass fishers in America (those who spend at least 15 days a year fishing). Some observers compare largemouth-bass fishing today to the status of NASCAR just 10 years ago--on the verge of exploding into national awareness. Burke's engaging, informed account of the sport... explains just why bass fishing has become so popular: the proliferation of largemouth bass in lakes nationwide, their fight on the rod, and a professional circuit that supports some 500 bass fishers. There are also the fame and cash that come from landing the Big One, the record fish having been caught in 1932 at a whopping 22 pounds, 4 ounces."--Alan Moores, Booklist

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