Here is the definitive account of the infamous and, heretofore, unexplained shark attacks that serve as the horrifying real-life inspiration for Peter Benchley's Jaws. In July 1916, with the nation entangled in World War I and New York City in the throes of a deadly polio epidemic, the tri-state population thronged the Jersey Shore in search of respite from the stifling mid-summer heat. The Atlantic's refreshing waters proved to be utterly inhospitable, however. In a shockingly brief span of just twelve days, four swimmers were violently and fatally mauled by a marauding shark (or school of sharks), and a fifth was seriously injured, escaping within inches of his life. By the third week in July, national newspapers were headlining reports of "Battles Against Man-Eating Sharks" above the battles of war across the ocean. In this thoroughly researched, first-ever full account, Dr. Richard Fernicola, considered to be the leading expert on the attacks, presents a riveting portrait of these twelve days of terror as they occurred against the historical backdrop of America in 1916. With the perspicacity of a private eye, he immerses himself in the specifics of the events as he carefully examines clues and reconstructs evidence in an effort to resolve what scientists have been arguing over for decades. Was a rogue shark or a school of sharks responsible? Was it a bull shark or a great white shark? Was the shark's motivation hunger or fear? Through primary sources and face-to-face interviews with witnesses, Fernicola pieces together a conclusive, if controversial, theory regarding the character and the cause of these mysterious attacks. Part fascinating social history, part spellbinding detective story, Twelve Days of Terror is one of those rare books that proves truth can be stranger, more dramatic, and more terrifying than fiction.