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The Heroic Discovery of the Abyss

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In Descent: The Heroic Discovery of the Abyss, Brad Matsen brings to vivid life the famous deep-sea expeditions of Otis Barton and William Beebe. Beebe was a very well-connected and internationally acclaimed naturalist, with the power to generate media attention. Barton was an engineer and heir to a considerable fortune, who had long dreamed of making his mark on the world as an adventurer. Together, Beebe and Barton would achieve what no one had done before--direct observation of life in the blackness of the abyss. Here, against the back drop of the depression, is their riveting tale.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 21, 2005 – A legendary naturalist and a wealthy engineering student come together in the name of science (and glory) in this highly readable look at the discoveries that made William Beebe and Otis Barton international celebrities of the Depression era. Journalist and nature-doc producer Matsen (Planet Ocean, etc.) shows how Barton, who'd long dreamed of undersea adventure, convinced the already-famous Beebe that his diving device will be the key to Beebe's success. Barton would pay for the bathysphere a four-and-a-half-foot steel ball dangling from a wire rope and ventilated by its occupants waving a palm leaf fan and thus go along for the ride. The men were personally incompatible, but they made an effective team; from 1929 to 1934, they made more than 20 dives off Bermuda and many improvements in their vehicle. Matsen devotes greater energy to Beebe, noting how his scientific credentials were often questioned a bon vivant, he wrote for Ladies' Home Journal as well for Science. Matsen also pays tribute to the duo's support team (which Beebe often did not), including wildlife artist Else Bostelmann. From interpersonal conflict to the first radio broadcast from the ocean's depths and the intricate negotiations with National Geographic Society that enabled them to make their last dive in the depths of the Depression, Matsen's account is a thoroughly researched, fluently written addition to the history of science.
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: History
  • Published: Apr 12, 2005
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 304 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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