A fish story you can trust: Review of The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack

I had just finished reading Life of Pi (the movie version releases today) when I picked up The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack. Both books are seemingly unbelievable tales of survival at sea. The thing is, Kissack’s book is a true story, and I couldn’t help comparing the experience of three Mexican fishermen lost at sea with the fictional tale of Pi’s adventure at sea. The true story lent credibility, for me, to the fictional one.

The Fourth Fisherman is really two stories woven together. Joe Kissack was a high-powered TV executive, walking the red carpet at the Emmy awards. His life was also spinning out of control. Kissack relates his story of alcohol and prescription drug addiction and the card tower of success that came crashing down, leading  him eventually to faith in Christ. He also relates the story of how three Mexican fishermen came to be lost at sea for almost nine months and how they survived with few supplies, a Bible being their main source of survival.

The two stories converge as we learn in the second half of the book how Kissack got the fishermen’s story and the hours and dollars he personally contributed to make sure this story could be told. (He’s working on a movie about the fishermen’s survival.) This part was interesting to me, as a journalist, because I’m inspired by people who know a good story when they see it and go after it for the greater good.

Overall, I think the first half of the book–the stories of the fishermen’s survival and Kissack’s redemption–holds greater appeal for most people, and the second half is anticlimactic comparatively. But it’s a compelling story, and if you’ve read Life of Pi, I think you’ll like Kissack’s true story, too. (A side note for all you Sauk Valley readers out there: Kissack is a Rochelle, Illinois native.)

Click here for the first chapter. And watch a video featuring the author below.


In exchange for my review, I received a free copy of The Fourth Fisherman from Waterbroook Multnomah through the Blogging for Books program. Take a moment to rank this review on the Blogging for Books site and be entered to win a book courtesy of the publisher.


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