Sunday, August 17, 2008

Book Review - Time Bandit by Andy and Jonathan Hillstrand

Time Bandit
(Two Brothers, The Bearing Sea, and One of the World’s Deadliest Jobs)
By Andy and Jonathan Hillstrand, with Malcolm MacPherson
Ballantyne Books
Copyright 2008; 230 pages
Advance Uncorrected Proof

“Time Bandit” recounts the adventures of the Hillstrand Brothers, Andy and Jonathan, captains of the fishing vessel of the same name which is highlighted on the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch.” Written as a memoir, the book chronicles in detail the adventures of the two brothers and their crew when they are not out fishing for crab in the Bering Sea. Not surprisingly, that includes more fishing, drinking, womanizing, fishing, a bit of ranching and a little more fishing. The most interesting thing about the book is, in fact, the two brothers. They are, without a doubt, characters which even the best fiction writers could not duplicate. They are real people with real faults doing the deadliest job on the planet and that is what appeals to me.

While not high literature “Time Bandit” does give us an insight into a vanishing way of life. This is a social commentary on a particular vanishing breed of men and their profession. While reading the book I was reminded of other professions that were lost in similar fashion. The small farms of one hundred years ago no longer exist today. Most have been swallowed up by vast conglomerate farming corporations. And tuna fishing has changed drastically, too. No more do muscular men wrangle and struggle to land huge tuna onto a boat with a pole and line. The difference here is that this lifestyle, which will someday disappear, has been documented and we are lucky enough to view it first hand.

In some ways I liked this book more for what it was not than what it was. It is not a glitzy Hollywood remake of the Perfect Storm or a recount of every fight and brawl experienced. It is about the brave men who work in the most dangerous of places, who love what they do and do not complain about their lot in life. Most of us could learn a lesson from that…

Three and a half stars out of five

The Alternative
Southeastern Wisconsin
May 17th, 2008

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