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Descent: The Heroic Discovery of the Abyss


3.88 avg rating60 ratings by GoodReads

Publisher:Pantheon, 2005



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About the book:

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. At a time when no one had traveled deeper than a few hundred feet, they took the world to a half mile down. At the height of the Depression, Beebe and Barton plumbed the depths of the ocean in nothing but a steel sphere, setting two records at once: it was also the first time a dramatic journey of discovery was broadcast live in America and Europe.

Beebe was an internationally acclaimed naturalist when he became obsessed with oceanography. He had an oceanographic research station on Nonsuch Island off Bermuda and a tug that could launch the craft. Beebe also had the support of many of the
most famous financiers and industrialists of the day, the ability to drum up publicity wherever he went, and connections at the New York
Zoological Society and National Geographic.

Barton was half Beebes age and heir to a considerable fortune, and had long dreamed of deep-sea exploration and making his mark on the world as an adventurer. Barton had the engineering skill to design the crafthis idea was simple, yet elegant: a steel sphere with thick portholes tethered to a support ship by a steel cableand he had the wherewithal to build it. Together, Beebe and Barton would achieve what no one had done beforedirect observation of life in the blackness of the abyss. But even as they achieved their greatest success, a bitter rift left the two explorers on barely more than speaking terms.

In this vivid narrative history of scientific vision, courage, and adventure, Brad Matsen illuminates the dramatic achievements of Beebe and Barton against the backdrop of the great age of exploration, in a riveting tale of man and nature.

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