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Silent World (National Geographic Adventure Classics) Hardcover – July 1, 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: National Geographic Adventure Classics
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; Reprint edition (July 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0792267966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0792267966
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #489,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Conrad H. Blickenstorfer on November 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
What can be said about Jacques Cousteau and his groundbreaking book that hasn't been said a thousand times? He is undoubtedly the defining figure of modern scuba diving, his books, films, and documentaries known to millions or billions. Even the name of his ship, the Calypso, is known the world over. It's a small volume, this book, just 160 pages, yet it's absolutely mandatory reading for anyone interested in what Cousteau termed "the silent world" under the surface of the water that covers 71% of our planet. The Silent World is the bible of modern scuba diving.

Jacques Cousteau himself died in 1997 at the age of 87, but the legacy of his pioneering work with diving and diving physiology lives on. It is all well documented and disseminated worldwide, thanks to this French explorer's unique combination of instinctive understanding of the world under the surface and his equally unique knack of spellbinding the world with his words and images. A total master of public relations and getting the word out, Cousteau managed to grab attention and media coverage wherever he went. Critics went so far as suggesting his media talents exceeded his actual contributions to understanding the seas.

At first it's hard to figure out why this slim volume became such a success. It's not a textbook, it doesn't cover the history of diving or even much of Cousteau's own research, and it's not an adventure book. Though Cousteau was French, he wrote The Silent World in English as he had attended American schools in his youth, widely traveled the US, and, of course, extensively lectured in his enchanting French-accented English. Yet, The Silent World clearly reveals its author's non-English origin and decidedly "non-English" thinking.
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Format: Paperback
I first read this book when I was about 15. I begged my mother to sign me up for a SCUBA class shortly after and I am still diving 25 years later. I have re-read it about 3 times since then and still keep a copy on my shelf. There is still something very captivating about the early days of diving and Cousteau's descriptions of the silent world. The explorers in his book indulged in a pioneering activity under the nose of the occupying Nazi regime and set in motion the evolution of underwater adventure that millions enjoy today.
The Silent World is easy and enjoyable to read. Most of the photographs are hard to see compared with the vast amount of underwater shots available today. However, when you consider the time period these photos were taken combined with the daring of these early pioneers, you can't help but be impressed.
This book produced an enjoyable influence on my life and I am sure it will on anyone willing to learn about the early history of underwater exploration.
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Format: Paperback
If you grew up watching the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau one night a week, you must read this book by Mr. Cousteau. I read the first chapter of this delightful little book in a diving collection and was instantly drawn to Cousteau's narrating style. Modest and touched with humor, he describes the creation of the aqualung (scuba) and his early exploits with it. Early photos of underwater creatures are amazing. My copy is from the late 1950s and I hold it carefully. It is a physical and figurative jewel to me.
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Format: Hardcover
This griping tale of the early period of under water exploration begins in late WW II and is set of the most part in the south of France and Mediterranean Sea. Most clearly it is not a NOVEL (see previous review). In it you will find Jacques' characteristic outlook in the germination stages. Especially interesting to observe is the beginnings of environmenal concerns in his misc. comments about mans impact on the health of the Mediterranean Sea. There are accounts of the effects of Coral dredging and drag netting clearing documenting the destructiveness of these technques coupled with descriptions of his own crew on his aboard the French Naval vessel he commanded harpooning of sea mammals for questionable "scientific" experiments.
All in all it is a good read for individuals interested in the history of exploration of new worlds by this sensitive innovative explorer. Not to be missed are the numerious accounts of early ship wreck exploration. My copy was published in 1953 and includes some of the earliest published color underwater shots. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was interesting and valuable to read this book both for its historical value as well for the scientific knowledge from such a keen observer and student of the ocean. It's amazing how much of the knowledge and science Cousteau presented in this 1950's book is still valid today. He discuses marine life behavior, the physics of light and physiology among other topics.

The reason I rated it 4 rather than 5 stars is his attitude towards marine life at that time was abominable. True, our view of sea life has changed and I'm judging him by a different standard, still this was a very intelligent man and it's clear he was aware of his cruelty. It's ironic that he feared the large creatures but in fact he and his team were the most dangerous beings in the ocean. He talks about using explosive harpoons, capturing sea mammals to use as displays and pets, trapping octopuses, and using dynamite on fish. Some of this was done for the purpose of making "interesting" underwater films. Of course the book was written over 60 years ago by a pioneer with a different mentality and societal attitudes than today, and I understand his behavior towards marine animals changed later in life.
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