This is a story of some of the brave, brilliant and often barmy men that invented diving. It is a story of explosive tempers and exploding teeth, of how to juggle live hand grenades and steer a giant rubber octopus. A series of vivid portraits reveal the eccentric exploits of these pioneers. They include Guy who held a world altitude record when only sixteen, wrote a film for Humphrey Bogart, invented snorkelling and loved his wife enough to shoot her. Roy wore a backet over his head and stole a coral reef. Bill wearied of fishing with dynamite and wrestling deadly snakes, so he sealed himself in a metal coffin to dangle half a mile beneath the ocean. Cameron, testing the bouncing bomb for dam busters, made a plastic ear for a dog, a false testicle for a stallion and invented a mantrap disguised as a lavatory. He ascended from a depth of 200 feet without breathing equipment to see if his lungs would burst, then studied the effects of underwater explosions by standing closer and closer until shattered by the blast. The book also traces the evolution from spear fishermen to conversationalists, from treasure hunters to archaeologists, from photographers to philosophers. The sea is a secretive and seductive place and the author describes the magic and mystery of being beneath the waves.
"Trevor Norton has shown that a gifted writer is an alchemist... Norton's agile prose is burnished with faintly mocking humour, and he has the natural storyteller's eye for detail" * Daily Telegraph * "This anecdote-packed book reads rather like the draft of a rollicking after-dinner speech... rich entertainment" * Mail on Sunday * "Norton writes with wit and a fine eye for the poetry in the scientific work... funny and gripping" * Guardian *