There is no singular book more worthy of my number one recommendation than Jacques Cousteau’s timeless classic The Silent World.
The book is written by Capt. Jacques Cousteau. It recounts his journey from Naval officer to inventor of the most groundbreaking invention for underwater exploration – the Aqua Lung (prototype of the modern SCUBA unit). Set during World War II, Jacques Cousteau writes of his first attempts at designing the Aqua Lung, along with the ideas and inspirations from others such as his co-inventor Emile Gagnan.
Where the book really shines is in the accounts of the actual underwater exploration. Capt. Cousteau describes the harrowing details of the first dives with the Aqua Lung, the first deep dives of his dive team, bends, nitrogen narcosis and oxygen toxicity. He also describes being the first humans to be underwater in certain places. How amazing the stories are as you get to read and feel what it was like to be with the first explorers underwater.
I am also fascinated by the photos. The underwater photos are mysterious and eerie. All are black and white, with a combination of topside and underwater – including the first underwater photo he ever took on the Aqua Lung unit. Photos of the earliest divers in their equipment are just superb.
The first printing of the book was in 1954. However, National Geographic has republished it for its 50th anniversary. I can’t recommend this book enough for any diver of any level!