This book – The Silent World by Capt. Jacque Cousteau sort of reached me out of chance. And when I checked the title, I saw that this was a National Geographic Adventure classic – not the sort of a book I would have picked up myself (or would have known about). And this is probably one of the few books I didn’t check any reviews before I started reading it – and I am not disappointed at all. For someone who didn’t know anything about scuba diving (other than seeing it on TV), this book has been sort of a revelation. This book is not about the science behind scuba diving, though one does pick a few facts here and there. What this book is about the journey of Captain Jacques Yves Cousteau as he discovered scuba diving. Well, not really scuba diving but the aqua-lung. Another thing which I learnt after I finished reading the book was that it was published first in 1953; which makes sense when I think about it now – the final chapter sort of felt a bit abrupt.
So, what is this book about? The book describes the captain’s experiences as he discovers the undersea world – the world that we now conveniently get to see on TV. He describes the underwater life and the richness of the experience one feels during scuba diving. There are also details about some of his expeditions for treasure hunts and shark trips. The treasure hunts, contrary to my expectations were not very interesting reads. The shark close-ups chapter was much better. The best part of the book for me was the description of the details that the captain goes to for undersea cave diving. I couldn’t always visualize some of the problems regarding the challenges faced by scuba divers that the captain describes and that is why this book falls short of my expectations. As a pioneer in the field, I expected the captain’s narrative to be a lot more exciting and vivid. May be the adrenaline rush that I was looking for was lost in translation.
The best part of the book as I mentioned was the description of the undersea life during the captain’s cave diving expeditions off the Mediterranean. That did make me realize the joy one would have experienced seeing underwater life with such clarity for the first time. At-least to be part of the experience one should pick up this book. A 6/10.