From Publishers Weekly
Written by renowned ocean explorer Cousteau in the 10 years before his death, this book strikes a note of caution as it celebrates the natural world: as the seas are plundered, the biosphere is polluted and the hazards of nuclear power are imposed upon nature, the human race is unraveling complexities it took eternity to create. As a scientist and an explorer, Cousteau laments the government's use of science as a handmaiden to profit, reproaching technocrats and military and industrial leaders who, in pursuit of power and money, make decisions and leave the rest of the world, and its ecosystems, to live with their mistakes. An informative introduction and epilogue by Schiefelbein, a former editor at the Saturday Review
, updates this account with developments since Cousteau's death, including the continuing depletion of the oceans and the persistent shift of funds from scientific research to economic priorities. Cousteau's reverence for life's miracles—embodied by the evolutionary wonders of the human, the orchid and the octopus—shines through in this eloquent testimony on the importance of pursuing higher ideals, particularly the preservation of the oceans and the natural world for future generations. (Nov.)
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Believing that "people will protect what they love," pioneering marine explorer and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau (191097) set out to make humankind fall in love with the sea, the crucible of life. A man of sangfroid, conviction, courage, ingenuity, and perception, Cousteau not only was the preeminent guide to the surpassing beauty and mystery of the deep but also became a tireless defender of the watery realm. With the help of Schiefelbein, who wrote the narration for a number of his award-winning documentaries, Cousteau completed this defining and superlative chronicle the year before his death, and although it has taken a decade for it to reach America, it is fresh and stinging, replete with an anchoring foreword by Bill McKibben and Schiefelbein's vivid introduction and informative epilogue. Cousteau seamlessly splices amazing tales of exploring undersea caves, encountering sharks, and surviving an Antarctic blizzard with bracing eyewitness accounts of the shockingly rapid and potentially catastrophic destruction of marine life. Indelible descriptions of the glory of the undersea world are matched by prescient observations and arresting analysis of humankind's paradoxical approach to risk, the roles religion and science play in defining our perception of nature, and the "moral quandaries" attendant on technology, especially nuclear weapons. Cousteau's electrifying, many-faceted masterwork at once celebrates "life's miracles " and warns us that unless we stop ransacking "nature's irreplaceables," we may go the way of the dinosaurs. Seaman, Donna