17 December 2005

Book Review: Neutral Buoyancy: Adventures in a Liquid World, by Tim Ecott, *****

A brilliant mix of vivid reportage, history and science. Historical diving bells, greek sponge divers, world war two frogmen and record-setting breath hold divers compete for space with misunderstood sharks, weeping turtles, smiling dolphins and erotically shaped sea slugs. From Ireland to Florida, Papua New Guinea to Vienna and the Bahamas to Seychelles, Neutral Buoyancy is travel writing of the most fascinating, readable kind; providing a window - or a view from a glass bottomed boat - on a rich, unfamiliar and unique destination. Travel writing of this quality makes Neutral Buoyancy a must for all armchair travellers, not just divers.

This book looks at man diving underwater under many different circumstances (war and peace, competition and scientific research), across a wide range of conditions (hot and cold, deep and shallow) and over a long period of time, from the very first serious attemps in the XVI century to our days. Here we meet firshermen who scraped a living risking their lives undewater and brave mariners, sportsmen attempting to push the limits of human endurance and scientists looking for answers in their quest to understand nature.

It is a comprehensive (more so than any other book I know) overview of man's attempt to inhabit the sea, a dream thousands of years old. A dream which may not become a reality soon, but eventually might as we run out of space on the emerged portion of the earth.

I am a passionate diver and this book only made me more so, but I imagine it could inspire people who don't dive yet to perhaps try. At least the non diver will get useful explanations about the techniques of diving and the physics at work underwater.

1 comment:

  1. hello marco,
    thankyou for reviewing Neutral Buoyancy so positively. I am very glad to hear it when divers enjoy the book. i was trying to write a book which would have something in it for everyone who loves being underwater - and wanted to capture the feelings that come from being in that magical 'liquid world'. your own photos are truly great.


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