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The Last Dive: A Father and Son's Fatal Descent into the Ocean's Depths Paperback – February 19, 2002

4.1 out of 5 stars 214 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a captivating account of sport diving, Chowdhury chronicles the tragedy of Chris and Chrissy Rouse, an energetic father-son dive team who met with disaster while attempting to explore a German U-boat 230 feet deep in the waters off New York. Conway reads with a raspy voice and dark intonation, and he revels in bringing alive the book's dramatic moments, such as when Chrissy slithers through cold, murky waters inside the submarine's cramped hull. Though highly competent in perilous underwater cave diving, the Rouses lacked experience on the open sea, leaving them unprepared for a cruel convergence of deadly circumstances. Aside from telling the Rouses' story, Chowdhury does an excellent jobAreinforced by Conway's audio skillsAof introducing listeners to the history, equipment and dangers of diving at extreme depth. The streamlined audio abridgment omits some of this information, along with a handful of alluring anecdotes, but it also does away with some of the obsessive personal details of the Rouses that occasionally bogged down Chowdhury's narrative. Though this makes for a few clumsy moments (the tape mentions, for instance, how Chrissy had once saved his father's life, yet the story of the machine-shop explosion to which it refers has been edited out), its overall effect is to create a crisp storyline that listeners will appreciate. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover (Forecasts, Sept. 25). (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Extreme sports, such as climbing Mount Everest, are becoming increasingly popular in this country. Among these activities is extreme scuba diving deep diving, wreck diving, and cave diving, often using nonair gas mixtures. Chowdury chronicles the world of these divers, using his own story and that of a father-and-son dive team that died following a penetration-wreck dive at 230 feet using air. Excellently written and a real "grabber" to read, the book includes much information about the history, equipment, and people who make up the world of extreme or "technical" diving. This book should be read by any diver thinking of getting involved in wreck, cave, deep, or mixed-gas diving. One hopes it will change their minds, for there's absolutely no margin for error in these risky ventures. There is also much meat here for those interested in the psychology of extreme sports. Strongly recommended for libraries of all types with interests in scuba diving, sports (especially extreme sports), and the psychology of sports and risk-taking.DMargaret Rioux, MBL/WHOI Lib., Woods Hole, MA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (February 19, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060932597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060932596
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (214 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am a technical diver with some wreck experience, although I do not possess the advanced training (Full Cave, Deep Air, etc.) of either the author or the father-and-son team who perished, the Rousses. I found Bernie Chowdhury's "The Last Dive" to be an exciting, well-told account of a very unfortunate accident, but I must respectfully say that the two divers featured in the title did not earn my sympathy.<P... for all their training and technical equipment they both took chances underwater that were guaranteed to get them into trouble. Chrissy 'tossing' the end of the penetration line to his father, then swimming into a wreck without seeing that it was securely tied off. Playing 'bumper cars' with underwater scooters. Teasing and shaming each other into completing a technically challenging dive when neither diver was fully comfortable about going into the water. And on their final dive, attempting a dangerous penetration in a deep, challenging wreck on air (not the most suitable breathing gas for the dive, for those of you who have not yet read the book), because they couldn't afford the more expensive--but much safer--trimix. What were they thinking?
I live in Alaska, and every year men and women die in this state pursuing activities that are not unduly dangerous--hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, hunting, flying, and the like. Sometimes the accidents are the result of poor planning, inadequate equipment, and a failure to grant nature the respect it demands. But sometimes people die when it seems they did everything right, the victims of plain bad luck. Chris and Chrissy Rouse fall into both categories.
In the end, I give Mr. Chowdhury high marks for a fine job of telling the story of his two friends.
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Format: Paperback
I picked up Chowdhury's "Last Dive" after reading --and thoroughly enjoying-- Robert Kurson's excellent book, "Shadow Divers." (see my other reviews) If you read and enjoyed Kurson's book, be forewarned: this book isn't in the same league.

In "Shadow Divers," Chris Rouse and his son Chrissy were among the divers involved in the quest to uncover the identity of a sunken German U-boat discovered in 230 feet of water off the coast of New Jersey. They (along with another diver), lost their lives during the six years it took to unravel the mystery.

The Rouses were interesting characters. Seemingly always at each other's throats, they gave me the impression that watching them was sort of like witnessing a latter-day "Two" Stooges. No one doubted that they loved one another, but their antics and belittling comments to one another while aboard dive boats had become legendary by the time they took their final dive.

Since the subtitle of this book is "A Father and Son's Fatal Descent into the Ocean Depths," I sort of expected that the book would be about them. Actually, it's focus was seemed to be more on Chowdhury.

Bernie Chowdhury was a friend of the Rouses, and also participated in the extreme sport now known as "technical diving." (As opposed to recreational diving, which imposes some pretty strict limits on depth and time for safety's sake.) Indeed, Chowdhury himself very nearly died, and was lucky to avoid being permanently crippled as the result of a dive accident. He writes rather extensively about this incident... and many others, involving other friends and acquaintances --thus filling a pretty significant fraction of the book's 356 pages.

Don't get me wrong. The Rouse family IS discussed at length.
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Format: Paperback
As a life long wreck diver this book, though a bit uneven, riveted me from start to finish. The author furnished a lot of information that was new to me, primarily about cave diving and the Rouses. Some of the other players were people I knew or knew of which made the book doubly fascinating.

One phrase that constantly ran through my head (a hundred times) as I read the book was "Gee, that was stupid". Stupid and diving don't mix.

It was fascinating to read about the dysfunctional Rouses and their motivation for this type of diving. Diving for fame or recognition is asking for trouble. It is like flying, the best pilots and divers are those who pursue their avocation because they love it, all else being secondary.

When I got to the end of the book and read the part about the Rouses fatal accident my skin literally crawled and I cringed in an empathy of pure terror. I know what it is like to be trapped in a wreck with zero visibility. I also know that panic equals death in diving and it must be controlled at all cost. Part of a good divers job is to work diligently at extrication from a problem right up to the end, calmly, and then if you have to die, to die quietly. Reading between the lines a bit I feel that the younger Rouse, after being freed from entrapment by his father bolted from the U-boat and went straight up in wild panic. The father followed.

Also sad was the author's thoughts on the last pages of the book on an expert cave and wreck diver whom he held in high regard as a personal friend. After the book was published this diver, too, died cave diving. By himself.

The book is an utterly fascinating litany of everything not to do as a diver and is a must for the library of every serious scuba diver. The Wreck Hunters: Dive to the Wreck of the USS Bass
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