Journalist Hellwarth chronicles American efforts to create an underwater habitat that would open the ocean's depths to exploration, at the same time that astronauts were racing to the moon.

In 1959, Navy doctor George Bond, was given the project to train and equip seamen to escape from damaged submarines while avoiding the bends, the often-fatal arterial gas embolisms caused by rapid decompression of air as a diver rapidly surfaces. Bond envisaged expanding the program beyond rescue missions to encompass a wide range of underwater activities—scientific and industrial as well as military. He anticipated President Kennedy, who in 1961 proposed a major underwater exploration program as a matter of absolute necessity to the national interest, to the cost of $2 billion over the next decade. “Knowledge of the oceans is more than a matter of curiosity. Our very survival may hinge upon it,” said the president. This resulted in the creation of the Sealab program, which Bond was chosen to lead. Not only were the space and underwater exploration programs contemporaneous, but they shared key personnel such as Malcolm Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit the earth who also led a Sealab II team that lived underwater successfully for 30 days. “Never had so many people lived and worked for so long at such depths…a grand total of three and a half man-years living on the bottom,” writes the author. Unfortunately, the Sealab III mission was prematurely aborted after developing a serious leak, and that aspect of the program ended—although offshoots from it (many of which are still top secret) continued, including tapping submerged Soviet communications cables. Another offshoot was the development of technology necessary for off-shore drilling of oil and gas. Intriguing account of a relatively unknown program for undersea exploration.  


Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7432-4745-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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