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The Silent World

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  1,045 ratings  ·  107 reviews
A new era of undersea exploration began in 1943 when the young French naval officers J.Y. Cousteau, Philippe Tailliez, and the great civilian diver Frédéric Dumas, plunged into the Mediterranean with the first aqualung, co-invented by Cousteau.

In this fascinating report, Cousteau and Dumas tell what it is like to be “menfish” swimming in the deep twilight zone with sharks,
Hardcover, 223 pages
Published 1954 by The Reprint Society Limited (first published June 1st 1953)
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  1,045 ratings  ·  107 reviews

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Oct 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cousteau
This is an amazing book, chuck full of so much information and things I never ever thought about. Cousteau wrote this book with his friend Frederick Dumas in English (not in his native French). Cousteau and Emile Gagnan designed, built and tested the first "aqua-lung" in the summer of 1943 off the southern coast of France. In the opening chapters Cousteau recounts the earliest days of scuba diving with his diving companions Frederic Dumas and Philippe Tailliez. The aqualung allowed for the first ...more
Jun 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The opening shot of Louis Malle's film version of "The Silent World" tracks a platoon of divers as they descend through blue water; the focus of the shot, however, is not the men themselves, but on the long strings of bubbles emitted by their regulators, and the flares each of them is holding. The trace in other words: a flexible, buoyant, and irrepressible string, which threads the seawater beautifully and then disappears on the surface, in a series of harmless gurgles.

Cousteau's writing in Th
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pick-a-shelf
I was worried the book may be too technical to enjoy, but was pleasantly surprised. Cousteau shared his experience in a manner that was educational and thoroughly enjoyable. I learned so much about the undersea world. Much better than Rachel Carson's The Sea Around US, I thought. ...more
Erik Graff
Nov 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: scuba enthusiasts
Recommended to Erik by: Alfred & Mildred Hogle
Shelves: sciences
During childhood summers spent along the lake at Grandmother's in SW Michigan I was effectively an only child, my brother Fin Einar not being born until I was seven and being pretty useless for years afterwards. There was only one other kid in the woods we called "Livingston Hills", Diane Werner, the daughter of Dad's childhood friend, Christian. We would see each other a lot over the years until she, maturing faster, started getting girlish around age twelve.

Diane and I had an arrangement where
Scot Parker
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scuba
This book provides a fascinating account of the earliest modern scuba dives conducted by Jacques Cousteau and Frederick Dumas using the Aqualung which was designed and built by Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan. These divers had no guidebook, no rules, only a rudimentary (compared to today) understanding of decompression theory, oxygen toxicity, nitrogen narcosis, and the other physiological effects of diving. They went on to pioneer the sport of SCUBA diving for millions to come.

It was entranc
Feb 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Scuba diving, the Red Sea, exploration ... what else can a girl ask for? This girl, anyway! My favorite bits of this book were the ones that revealed how much diving (and biology) has changed in the past 50 years. No more riding turtles, ripping out gorgonia, or petting cuttlefish. The "crunch of coral" is a bad thing these days. And oh, this book is so French - Cousteau talks about all the bottles of wine they brought with them on their adventures. Point me towards the ocean! ...more
Joshua Phillips
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Fantastic book. As a deep water diver, I found Cousteau's autobiographical recounting of the early days of diving to be informative and moving. While Cousteau has long been a hero of mine, reading his own account of the incredible pioneering that he, Dumas, and Tailliez performed only built my appreciation for their deep sea trio as well as for those others who met with death along the course of discovery. This book will inspire even those who have never reached below the depths.

Kevin Findley
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A pretty good (warts and all) story of Cousteau's early dives and how they developed aqualungs and new types of equipment that are still the foundation for diving today. As a kid, I watched The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau every week, so this book was a little bit of a retro experience for me.

If you have even the mildest interest in biographies, diving, or anything to do with the undersea environment, you should read this book. It is also a very interesting look into Post-WWII Europe.

Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the great explorers who dares to leave the sunlight and plunge down to visit lobsters in the crevice of a reef or rebuff a curious shark by hitting it on the nose with a camera. An amazing story of undersea adventures of Cousteau and his fellow explorers, the rewards of genius and courage. Fascinating illustrations.
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scuba-books
The joy of this book is the discovery of the underwater world. Though Cousteau made these discoveries decades ago, they are new to you when you pick up the book. It's a wonderful read if you can get ahold of a copy.
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, wow, adventure, cool
This book was very good. I loved how the divers never gave up. They were courageous to offer to be the first ones who tried multiple "artificial lungs". They were the first to be able to move around without having to worry about interrupting nature with huge, metal suits. AWESOME!!! ...more
Cora Pokrifka
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book has beautiful descriptions that continue to make me say to myself "that's so cool!" Although I know that scuba diving is not the life for me, this book made me harbor a new understanding and appreciation for the mysterious and adventitious beauty of the silent world below the waves. I loved his writing, and the beautiful and human nature of the book. I love the fact that his curiosity and nonchalance just bubbles itself through the entire book, making the book and its contents even more ...more
Tyler V.
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What impressed me the most about Cousteau was his ability to write simply. He obviously had a great passion for the technical, scientific side of things but at no time during my reading of the book did he show it. He made the sea, and everything in it, seem simple, delightful, elegant, and worthy of a childlike curiosity. This really comes through with his simple language; a child could read this and feel something an adult would, probably even more. At the same time it isn't boring or naive. Co ...more
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's so good! From the time that Cousteau INVENTED the SCUBA from old car parts to a whole bunch of his dives, it's hard to find someone who wrote so elegantly and descriptively of the underwater. Cousteau was such a wonderful man, and the proof is in this book. ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I found the descriptions exquisite and lyrical in places. It's like being along with a explorer seeing and experiencing a new world that man has never visited before (or at least very few times). It's amazing the risks they took and the places that they they were the first men to ever to visit. ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There are a lot of interesting things in here, but I couldn’t get over the misogynistic comments (really, women are “suspicious of diving”?), and how often he discussed killing sea creatures just for research.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic. One of those books that transports you to a time past and a place you'd like to be. ...more
Franziska Nitzsche
The beginning of aqualung , pretty fascinating.....from a different time.
Vicky Hunt
Dancing with the Much Slandered Octopus

An invasion of the silent world under the Mediterranean Sea; Jacques Cousteau's deep sea diving left behind a wealth of photos, movies, and Science about the world that flows around our dry land. For the reader who loves to discover shipwrecks from an armchair, or the aquarium lover who can visualize the denizens of the sea by mere words; this book will suit readers of all ages.

"Iron Ships crumble away in the lifetime of a man."

Jacques is the French hero o
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Obviously man has to enter the sea." ...more
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Captain Cousteau developed and pioneered the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus for the French Navy. He and his team then carried out research under water which would not have been possible with tethered apparatus. This book shows those pioneering dives and includes photographs.
Cousteau later became a advocate for protecting marine environments and made many films which were shown on television.
Ryan Miller
Nov 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favorites
Loved it. Important to remember they embarked on these adventures in the 1930s and 1940s with primitive aqualung technology. This book is full of wonderful stories of discovery.

A favorite passage:

"During the summer of Liberation I came home from Paris with two miniature aqualungs for my sons, Jean-Michel, then seven, and Philippe, five. The older boy was learning to swim but the younger had only been wading. I was confident that they would take to diving, since one does not need to be a swimmer
Nov 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a good book which explored many of the technical aspects of diving, as well as giving a good explanation of the development of deep-diving techniques and under-water filming. Cousteau describes his experiences very well, with some beautiful and lyrical descriptions of life in the silent world under the sea. The photographs included were extremely interesting, even if they're not quite up to the standard we're used to now in terms of quality.

While I appreciate why Cousteau chose to split
Josefin Nordlander
It's hard for me to rate this book written by my hero Captain Jacques Yves Cousteau. On one hand it is a true adventure for anyone who has tried to breathe through a straw as a child and on the other it is a story told by an old voice from a different generation. There are some "killings in the name of science" and some snappy 50's fashion conclusions but the awesomeness in the stories of the first people ever to explore this world is thrilling. I must remind myself that Cousteau became a champi ...more
Circul Wyrd
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having met a number of professional biologists, I have been surprised when occasionally mentioning this book how often one gets a response similar to "that was the book that I read when I was a kid that inspired me to become a biologist". It is an amazing piece of autobiographical writing from an amazing person. I highly recommend one of the older editions. Mine is a hardback from 1954 which has 44 pages of illustrations. It is adventure, love of the ocean and its creatures, engineering, and eve ...more
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good! Obviously, many discoveries and further studies have been done on sea life, and some of Cousteau's observations seem silly compared to what is known now. But, keeping the book in its historical context,I enjoyed it greatly. The edition I was reading, the National Geographic Adventure Classics(not the one pictured here), had typographical errors that increased as the book progressed. I am not sure if this is typical of this series, but readers be aware! ...more
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: personal
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul Goina
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The book would be much more interesting with more pictures. When reading about all of the sea creatures I needed to check google images or wikipedia to realize which sort of animal am I reading about and being so fascinated.
Great book, very interesting, but PICTURES !!! and maybe some more explanations about the techiques used and the technology involved.
Mar 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a retelling of being underwater within 15 feet of an exploding grenade, and stories of the "rapture of the deep," and of spearing 220 pounds of fish in a morning, and of finding sunken Roman ships, and of photographing torpedoes underwater....... ...more
So far the first chapters are pretty amazing. It never hit me until I started reading this book how much he contributed to scuba diving. It gets a little technical/dry in the middle but overall great if you're at all into diving. ...more
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Born in 1910, was a French naval officer, explorer, ecologist, and filmmaker, who studied the sea. Although he is most famous to us from his television programmes, he also co-developed the aqua-lung, and pioneered marine conservation as a political and scientific priority.
In the Calypso, an ex-Royal Navy minesweeper, Cousteau visited the most interesting waters of the planet. During these trips he

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