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CHAMBER DIVERS

THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE D-DAY SCIENTISTS WHO CHANGED SPECIAL OPERATIONS FOREVER

A fascinating, hair-raising account of groundbreaking research.

A fine history of the discoveries that allow humans to work safely underwater and the brilliant British scientist who led the effort.

Former Navy engineer Lance, author of In the Waves, has an irresistible subject in J.B.S. Haldane (1892-1964), an eccentric polymath and central figure in the 1920s genetics revolution. His accomplishments in a variety of fields are so numerous that his role in pioneering underwater research is often forgotten. Lance begins with the 1939 sinking of the British submarine Thetis. There was no explosion, and although the crew possessed breathing apparatuses, only a few escaped. Royal Navy leaders appealed to the famous Haldane to learn why. At the time, he was director of a university genetics laboratory, but at the beginning of World War II, he transferred his focus to underwater research. Haldane’s experiments took place at a London factory that manufactured breathing equipment and possessed a hyperbaric chamber. In the first half of the book, Lance emphasizes the experiments, the subjects of which were the scientists themselves, who occupied the chamber to experience the pressures and varying gas concentrations encountered by submariners. Many suffered dizziness, headaches, and somnolence but also vomiting, seizures, bleeding, collapsed lungs, and broken bones. Some, Haldane included, never fully recovered, but the results dispelled a great deal of ignorance. At high pressures, nitrogen causes confusion, and pure oxygen becomes poison, so carbon dioxide management may be the key. In the second half, the author describes how these discoveries affected the war, mostly during the June 1944 Allied landing at Normandy, preceded by months during which scouts approached the heavily guarded coastline under water and surveyed the beaches to map defenses, obstacles, and minefields, avoiding the disasters that marred earlier landings. Throughout, Lance makes good use of archival material that remained classified until 2001.

A fascinating, hair-raising account of groundbreaking research.

Pub Date: April 16, 2024

ISBN: 9780593184936

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

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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