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Descent: The Heroic Discovery of the Abyss

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  65 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
In Descent: The Heroic Discovery of the Abyss, Brad Matsen brings to vivid life the famous deep-sea expeditions of Otis Barton and William Beebe. Beebe was a very well-connected and internationally acclaimed naturalist, with the power to generate media attention. Barton was an engineer and heir to a considerable fortune, who had long dreamed of making his mark on the world ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 6th 2006 by Vintage (first published April 12th 2005)
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Liz
Feb 12, 2014 Liz rated it liked it
I became interested, after watching footage of deep-sea creatures, in just how and when mankind managed to find its way to the deep ocean. This book describes the development of the first deep sea craft, and the strained relationship between the two men who built and used it together.

This book is quite informative and not bad at all, but it reads in places as if the author was struggling to write in the current breezy, personal pop-science style (see: Mary Roach). It has flow issues, since he ke
...more
Bob
Nov 16, 2014 Bob rated it really liked it
Shelves: sea-stories
The story of Wm Beebe and Otis Barton, who made several first-ever dives into the deep ocean. They went to a depth of 3000 feet and lived through each dive. This was in the 1930's and their chances of successfully diving that deep were remote, but they did so by a combination of good engineering, careful planning and plenty of good luck.
Regan Gawan
Sep 25, 2015 Regan Gawan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good historical read

Informative book about the early days of diving. Interesting to learn about the history and the passion inspired bravery of Beebe and Barton. Pioneers in the ocean exploration field.
Sheila
Sep 26, 2007 Sheila rated it really liked it
For anyone who loves PBS specials about deep submersibles, or who wants to go down in a sub themselves, this book is a must. The description of the bathysphere, how small it was, the open trays of chemicals they had to use to scrub the air, is enough to make your hair stand up. Imagining crawling into that thing, and saying "go ahead, drop me a mile down, let's see what happens" just freaks me out. It's a little slow in some places, and you never quite figure out how these guys managed to pay fo ...more
Mairi
Dec 21, 2011 Mairi rated it liked it
William Beebe and Otis Barton traveled underwater, beyond where sunlight would reach, in a tiny metal ball called the Blathysphere. There they found things they had never even dared imagine. This is history of their descents, the work that led up to them, and their lives after them. I found it interesting.
Alexandra
Apr 20, 2014 Alexandra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2014
Gets bogged down in the technical aspects, makes some distracting stylistic choices which screws the pacing over, but it's hard to royally fuck up such a fascinating subject as this. Matsen's strengths lie in his descriptions of the dives themselves. Very vivid and enjoyable.
Rita Brinkerhoff
Jan 30, 2008 Rita Brinkerhoff rated it it was amazing
This is full of correspondence - it is all about the first time people went deep into the ocean in Beebe's Bathysphere. It's full of intrigue! Non-fiction FTW!
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Brad Matsen has been writing about wonders of the sea for forty years. He is the author of Jacques Cousteau: The Sea King; Descent: The Heroic Discovery of the Abyss, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2006; the New York Times bestseller Titanic's Last Secrets; Planet Ocean: A Story of Life in the Sea; and Dancing to the Fossil Record with artist Ray Troll; the award-winn ...more
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