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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
When you think about them, all sports can seem absurd....batting a round ball 400 feet, carrying an oval ball 100 yards, climbing the highest peaks on Earth. And yet each sport attracts its own. Each attracts players who embrace a sports peculiarities, intricacies and risks. Players do it for the love of teamwork and competition, for the unique camaraderie spawned in such pursuits, and for the moments of exhilaration, tranquility and statisfaction that come when pushing toward any form of excellence.
In Joe Haberstroh's new book, "Fatal Depth," the sport is scuba diving at its extreme, riskiest level....200 feet below the surface of the cold North Atlantic, where divers scavenge the wreck of the 1950s luxury ocean liner, the Andea Doria, in search of cups, plates and saucers from the ship's china cabinets. Silly as it might seem to others, scuba divers see the Doria and its baubles as the Mount Everest of their sport.
As the title suggests, the book is also about death....the odd circumstances surrounding the deaths of five Doria divers in 1998 and 1999.
One by one, readers get to know and care about each ill-fated diver. Haberstroh uses a gripping narrative style that's sparse, swift and rich with incisive detail. The craftsmanship is particularly visible at the end of each chapter, where the author is both playful and poignant.
The heart of the book, though, belongs to its ultimate survivor, Dan Crowell, skipper of the charter boat that escorted all five divers to the Doria. Crowell is an enigma, but an unrelentingly interesting one.
Unlike many sports-book authors, Haberstroh resists the temptation to romanticize Crowell and his crew of "big-boy" divers.
Unlike many authors examining untimely death, Haberstroh also resists the temptation to blame or scorn either the five divers or the crew that led them to the abyss.
Instead, he leaves it to readers to judge where fault lies....or whether there is fault when dealing with risks of such a sport at its highest, or in this case, deepest level.
It's those murky depths that help make "Fatal Depth" as rare and valuable a find as a first-class saucer from the Doria herself.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The Andrea Doria is often called the pinnacle of wreck diving, and as author Joe Haberstroh relates the stories of men who've died pursuing their dreams of diving on the sunken Italian liner, it's easy to see how the thrill and mystique of mastering one of the world's most challenging wreck dives can cause otherwise experienced divers to throw aside caution in their quest for the sport's ultimate challenge.
Without trying to assign blame, the author relates the circumstances surrounding the fatal dives taken by five men: Craig Sicola, Vince Napoliello, Richard Roost, Chris Murley, and Charlie McGurr. Technical divers with varying levels of skill, fitness and deep-wreck experience, the story of these men and their passion for the sport that ultimately killed them is what makes FATAL DEPTH a book that one can appreciate on many levels. The author (who is not a diver) has obviously done careful research on the sport, and he writes about the psychological and physiological effects of deep diving accurately and engagingly.
I've never climbed a mountain, jumped out of an airplane or surfed a breaking wave, but I have plunged to the ocean's depths to visit the remains of ships lost generations ago. Haberstroh captures that excitement in his prose, and has penned a book that will appeal to everyone who appreciates a spirit of risk and adventure.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I had just finished Shadow Divers when I jumped into Fatal Depth. That's a shame because Shadow Divers so overwhelms FD that a completely unbiased review may not have been possible.

Haberstroh knits together the string of fatal dive incidents using the state of mind of dive boat captain Dan Crowell as the unifying thread. This attempt, though, turns up so little that the incidents really have to stand alone. As such, they seem like little more than incident investigations with perhaps a bit of background color for each of the victims. The author seems to have had no particular agenda and draws no conclusions. Even the status of a lawsuit described in the book's closing chapters is left unresolved.

If you want a STORY, ready Shadow Divers. If you want research material on deep diving fatalities or just cannot get enough of the genre then by all means pick up Fatal Depth.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I actually had to forcefully keep my eyes open to finish reading this book. If you have read The Last Dive or Shadow Divers, you know that these books both share an immediacy and drama that reads like a novel. These are up-all-night page-turners that will leave you breathless. Fatal Depth was written like a summary of the author's short magazine articles about the events described; the book reads like the Coast Guard's accident files, lacking utter poignancy or interest. There is no attempt at defining the divers' characters or motives; as a result, we find ourselves feeling sorry for the victims but all the while unmoved by their two-dimensional profiles. Save your money and instead buy the aforementioned books. On a side note, this book's editing, as has been noted elsewhere, is aweful, inexcusable given the major publisher and the author's credentials
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2004
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is a very good book dealing with diving on the Andrea Doria. It is a detailed account of two chapters in Deep Descent. I think it is a story that is written well enough that most people will glide past the proofreading errors. Hardcore divers will enjoy the book, but few others.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As an avid wreck diver, I have read nearly every book available on the Andrea Doria. This book is similar to Deep Descent in that it documents some of the diving deaths at the Doria, however, this book goes into more details on the recreation of what may have happened to some of these unfortunate divers. I enjoyed the book but found it to be one of the worst examples of sloppy publishing I have ever read. I found nearly 50 examples of misspelled words, incorrect grammar, and sentences that made no sense because key works were missing. ( by misspelled words I am referring to words that will appear correct to a spell check program but are spelled incorrrectly in the context they are used. eg. the word "lot" will not be caught as a misspelled word but when you mean to write "lost"... you get the picture. A case of the authors mind running faster than his fingers. I would be surprised if anyone actually proof read this, and if it was proof read Joe should get his money back for the service. A 5 year old would have done a better job. Even more shocking considering that Joe Haberstroh is a reporter and columnist.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As Scuba equipment and technique became increasingly advanced, dives to the "Everest of Scuba Diving", the Wreck of the Andrea Doria, were becoming increasingly routine throughout the 90's. Dan Crowell, skipper of the deep dive charter boat "Seeker", had a perfect safety record repeatedly visiting the site until the disastrous summers of 1998 and '99, when the "Doria" reasserted her reputation for doom and claimed five more divers. The author has presented the tale of the ill fated five with exceptional skill, managing to both impersonally recite the salient facts and yet provide a compelling story at the same time. Having told the tale so well, the book still draws no conclusions on the deadly dive seasons, leaving the reader to puzzle over the "why" of the Andrea Doria's still fatal depths. It is a satisfyingly dissatisfying ending to a good read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
Fatal Depth offers a neutral report of several accidents, starting with the collision that sunk the Andrea Doria and then moving on to recount mishaps involving deep water scuba diving by recreational divers who want to explore the wreck and bring back artifacts. Some would call deep water diving of this type "extreme" diving (230 feet deep), though aficionados call it technical diving. The reporting of the mishaps themselves is brief since they often occurred while the diver was out of sight of others, but this is supplemented by substantial background information about the diver.

Haberstroh, by trade a reporter and not a diver, has written a book that looks at some of the non-technical issues, such as the boat captain's responsibility to assure the competence of divers who have the requisite certifications or who are accompanied by a reputable instructor. Typical of a reporter writing a story, he presents the issues but does not provide his own editorial opinion.

The failure to report the outcome of the lawsuit that is discussed in the book is annoying, but an online search revealed that the plaintiff lost the case (at least at the trial level) by summary judgment. Whether the case has been appealed is not readily ascertainable by an online search.

While a quick read, it does not compare favorably with Shadow Divers or The Last Dive, both of which are gripping. For someone interested in this genre, it offers enough new information to make it worth reading, and in that case, Fatal Depth would be a good book to borrow from a local library.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book is good for scuba divers who wants to understand all the "hoot" about diving safety.

First of all, there is currently very little documentation ( I know of ) that details any terms of a DIVERS FATAL MISTAKES for scuba divers. Impossible to quantify with metrics, etc. If you are looking to learn from other people's mistake, this book is excellent. Hence, this book represents your chance to read about a few documented cases of such fatal errors, all of which scuba diving related. Second, the author does a good job in talking about the decision making process that "shakes" the life of a safe diver into acting in an unsafe way. It could happen to you. Oh, yeah!!

Scuba divers are for the most part, constantly told about doing safe dives, keeping safe equipment, and thinking in a conservative mind set. Either by instructors, the dive shop, boat captains, their spouse, or close friends. So, why do people die from scuba diving? Mistakes. We all make the mistake of getting excited, impatient, and finally - acting impulsively. I stared to cry, after reading the tragic events in this book. Scuba divers making a gasping effort to recover dishes, tea cups, and other fine china from the wreck of the Andrea Dora. The stories were in respect of the team supporting those fatal accidents. These were very experienced, very safe, and masters of the deep diving, to 200 feet plus. These divers live and breath the Atlantic ocean "repetitively" so as to complete their deep sea diving journey. Experienced divers!! Yet, something went wrong, and they may have pushed their limits beyond their knowing -- to a point of fatal results.

Each of the eleven chapters has a story of a scuba diver who made a wrong decision. A fatal decision. The reader does not need to be a scuba diver, but want to learn about deep diving, and its dangers. How can experienced divers with excellent skills make stupid humans mistakes? Oh, it was sad, very sad. The book is timeless in the storyline, since the human mind continues to make the same common mistakes, sorry to say. The words were well written, and easy to understand. Nothing technically challenging for the reader.

Be prepared to be "shaken." This book is a great read for anybody.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
Great book. Lots of accident information as well as the diving history of the wreck. A must have for your reference library. Learn from the mistakes of others.
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