It has been awhile since I’ve read a nonfiction book but In Oceans Deep by Bill Streever did not disappoint. It was a wild and informative ride about a topic I had little knowledge of. When I picked out this book, despite my fascination with the ocean, I could see it was a topic that could easily be a hit or miss for me.
Streever does an excellent job of introducing the reader to the topic of deep-diving and with a penchant for story-telling, it’s a smooth transition between an anecdote to the cold, hard facts of history. The book is divided into seven chapters, all covering a range of topics from decompression to saturation to manned vehicles and even robots.
I flew through this book but that’s not to say it was a short read by any means. It is a lengthy book jam packed with information and visuals (mostly from Creative Commons) showcasing old newspaper clippings, photographs or even prototypes of the first diving gear created for the use of deep-diving.
There were two topics that spoke to me from the entire book. The decompression chambers, how the Bends started up, what the pressure changes did to the human body and the solutions humans eventually came up with to resolve it. The other topic was scattered about several chapters and it was in reference to saturation and nitrogen narcosis. I found the following quote of interest “….narcosis that made men breathing air see railroad tracks and trains and mermaids and monsters at much shallower depths.” but I think there wasn’t a single bit from this book that I found myself pulled away from.
It was eerie and frightening the fact that so many deep-divers dived only to never resurface and that the body was never recovered. Death is always a possibility when taking up a hobby so dangerous but the author painted both sides of the spectrum, clear as water. He did not skim over the grimly details and unfortunate accidents but he also presented the idea that some divers are not in it just for fame or the competitive heat. Streever describes reaching a sort of meditative state powerful enough to challenge the risks associated with deep-diving.
The negatives were not grand but they were worth of mention. The author’s passion for interviews at times seems persistence bordering on stalking, in particular, I agree with his own words in that last chapter and the bit about obsessing over submarine jokes and trying to get Navy personnel to share some with him seems a bit childish and off-putting concerning the seriousness of the topic discussed. Granted, I did enjoy the jokes he did chose toward the end of that chapter.
The negatives did not overshadow the positives and I would recommend this book to any ocean or nonfiction enthusiast. This book is perfect even for those that are just getting into the topic of deep-diving or that occasionally enjoy topic-hopping like I do.
Thank you to Netgalley for supplying the kindle version of this ARC in exchange for a review but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Is this book in your TBR? Have you read this book and if so, what were your thoughts on it?