This highly entertaining series of mini-biographies of the pioneers
of diving goes a long way toward bringing alive the history of
exploration of the deep. Packed with fascinating anecdotes and
humorous asides, this volume will appeal to almost anyone's sense
of high adventure. Take William Beebe: a succesion of wives tried
unsuccessfully to get him to settle down but his more than 100
scientific expeditions all over the world show that that was
clearly impossible. Beebe couldn't drive a car, but in the 1930s
co-piloted hs bathysphere to five times the then record depth for
humans - 3028 feet down. Beebe became famous for his colourful
writing, speaking and ability to convince anyone to sponsor his
expeditions, yet once he was half a mile down, he found himself in
the decidedly awkward position of having to describe the untold
mysteries and creatures of the deep on live radio linkups to the
BBC and NBC, while conserving air. He had to save the adjectives
for later. Absolutely delightful. (Kirkus UK)
This is a story of some of the brave, brilliant and often barmy men that invented diving. It is a story of explosive tempers and explodingteeth, of how to juggle live hand grenades and steer a giant rubber octopus. A series of vivid portraits reveal the eccentric exploits of these pioneers. They include Guy who held a world altitude record whenonly sixteen, wrote a film for Humphrey Bogart, invented snorkelling and loved his wife enough to shoot her. Roy wore a backet over his head and stole a coral reef. Bill wearied of fishing with dynamite andwrestling deadly snakes, so he sealed himself in a metal coffin to dangle half a mile beneath the ocean. Cameron, testing the bouncing bomb for dam busters, made a plastic ear for a dog, a false testicle for a stallion and invented a mantrap disguised as a lavatory. He ascended from a depth of 200 feet without breathing equipment to see if his lungs would burst, then studied the effects of underwater explosions by standing closer and closer until shattered by the blast.The book also traces the evolution from spear fishermen to conversationalists, from treasure hunters to archaeologists, from photographers to philosophers. The sea is a secretive and seductive place and the author describes the magic and mystery of being beneath the waves.
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