|CLASSIC DIVE BOOKS
Please note: The books are listed for interest only, and not offered for sale.
Whilst preparing this webpage, I realised that I have had the pleasure of meeting, and in some instances, knowing quite well, many of the people whose biographies and experiences are listed. This priviledge came about predominantly through my involvement with the Oceans Underwater Congress in Melbourne in the seventies, my position as inauguural Administration Manager of the Scuba Divers Federation of Australia, my photojournalism for Skindiving in Australia, and my partnership in Aquarius/Dive Travel Australia. It goes to show that if you get totally involved in your prefered sport or recreation you will meet some remarkable people. All of those whom I have met (as listed here) humble me in their achievements. All are an inspiration to others. It was after hosting Joe MacInnis to dinner at my home in Melbourne in the late seventies that I realised that I had to do something else with my life - the corporate life was not for me. And a Mig Mac couldn't be all that bad if Jack McKenney was addicted to them. Dear incredible humourous Kelly Tarlton I shall never forget - diving on the Dutch East Indiaman Batavia in his jocks, and coming up with a prized coin in his fist. And then there is Croppy's penis - well, it originally belonged to a whale who apparently had no longer any use for it. Whereas my achievements pale into absolute insignificance compared to these people at least I can be proud of the honour of knowing them.
CROPP - BLOOD IN THE WATER
Mike Colman, as told to him by Ben Cropp.
Park Street Press, Sydney, 2006.
Softcover (stiff boards folded to form pseudo end-flaps), larger format (275 x 230mm), 238 pages, many colour plates.
This book has an identity crisis - it is not quite a 'coffee-table' book, nor is it of standard 'reading' format, which makes it a rather awkward book to read. I prefer a biography to be easily readable in a physical sence, something you can read in bed as I generally do. But lets consider the man, rather than the book. Ben Cropp - 'Croppy' - is very well known to Australian divers, and has been so since the late fifties when he won many spearfishing championships. He went on from his spearing days to become a fine naturalist and conservationist, an excellent cinematography, and a shipwreck buff. I wondered at one time about his conservationist approach when viisting him at Port Douglas in the eighties: in his lounge room was what appeared to be a thin black gnarled trunk of a tree - it was in fact a dried whale penis. I was assured that Ben did not snip this off as he was swimming past. Thats my only, pathetic, annecdote about this great Australian adventurer. From ‘shark hunter to passionate conservationist', Ben Cropp became known to the greater diving and general public, through his films, and his book Handbook for Skindivers which went into print in many editions in the sixties and seventies (see elsewhere on this website). Many divers of my vintage had the pleasure of knowing him in the 1970s and 80s, and saw his films on the dive congress circuit. He was and still is a passionate diver, researcher, author and film-maker. This is his biography, a fascinating and well presented account of his extraordinary life. From the blurb: "Ben Cropp is a one-off, an original - a self-confessed old pirate - whose life story is inseparable from from giant sharks, gaping jaws and trails of blood in the water. One of the worlds legendary shark hunters, Cropp is Australias best known skindiver and underwater explorer. Now, for the first time, after a career spanning 50 years, Cropp has agreed to tell his complete, no-holds-barred story. Ben Cropp: Blood in the Water is packed with adventure, larger-than-life characters, and Cropps own award-winning pictures of deep-blue danger." He chronicles tales of close encounters with White Pointers; the largest shark ever captured on film; and adventures with Clint Eastwood, Peter Allen, Leonard Nimoy, Rupert Murdoch and others. Hey, how come I'm not included!!! Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned the whale penis! I was particularly intrigued to read of his converation with Prime Minsiter John Gorton after the loss of Harold Holt. Despite its awkward format, the book is a great tribute to a great Aussie. [ps]
The Deadly Descent Into the World's Most Treacherous Cave.
William Stone and Barbara Am Enden, with Monte Paulsen.
The Huautla cave in Mexico is probably the deepest system in the world. Shafts rach down to enormous depths, with huge stadium-sized cvrns. The author's 44-member team entered the sinkhole at Sotano de San Augustin, the first camp being 2328 ft below ground level. The second camp was established at the jinction of two sunterranean rivers met. Nobody had gone further and survived, excepot for Bill Stone and Barabara Am Ende, who forged on for no less than eighteen days. Dr. William Stone is the engineer who invented the Cis-Lunar rebreather, a life-support backpack that allows divers to stay underwater for up to 24 hours. Dr Am Ende is a geologist. Paulsen is a Pulitzer Prize winner. Hardcover.
Published by: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London in 1959. (The Adventurers Club, London)
Hard back with blue cloth boards and dust-jacket; 221 printed pages. Dimensions: 22 cms tall by 14 cms wide.
Illustrated with 28 monochrome photographs.
The author gave up his job as a pilot to go for a career in diving for saleable shell in the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean (can’t be bad). He trained some locals in the use of diving equipment and they all sailed in a schooner into “empty unlit seas”, searching for shell. The book is divided into 11 chapters with titles such as “Turtle Hunt” and “Goats and Groupers”, other chapters are devoted to the time spent on specific islands in the Seychelles. [pt]
Published by: The British Sub-Aqua Club, UK in 1990.
Introduction by: Mike Holbrook (then BS-AC National Chairman)
Illustrated card covers; 128 printed pages. Dimensions: 21 cms tall by 14.5 cms wide
Illustrated with line drawings by cartoonist “Rico”.
Coarse Scuba Diving is a collection of humorous diving stories and diving incidents written by the author, all of them actually happened. It is divided into 12 chapters with headings such as “Fishy Tales”, “The Art of Coarse Boat Diving”, “the Lure of Brass” and “Coarse Courses” plus many more with similar amusing titles. Having been a sports diver for so long, I for one can relate to so many of these stories! This book is a good laugh to take for holiday reading.
The introduction by Mike Holbrook is really a tribute to Dave Shaw who died soon after writing this book in 1989 - although not published until after his death, in 1990. [pt]
IN THE BLUE - A Life in Diving
Published by: Achilles Press, Alnwick, UK in 2007.
Blue hard covers with dustjacket; 263 printed pages. Dimensions: 25.5 cms tall by 18 cms wide.
Reg Vallintine has been involved with sport diving for over 50 years and this is his own personal account of his life in diving. Good time and bad times are all there. Reg has been involved in so many projects and activities over the years. He was director of the British Sub-Aqua Club for several years, set up and ran two scuba schools, was involved with the recovery of King Henry VIII’s flagship Mary Rose, involved with the search for X Craft “X5”, discovered the ancient wreck off the Italian island of Giglio and is currently Vice Chairman of the UK chapter of The Historical Diving Society - plus much, much more. The book is divided into nineteen chapters and is extremely well illustrated having some eighty-eight monochrome photographs and eighteen colour photos along with several maps. [pt]
Panorama Publications Ltd., Vancouver, Canada. 1983. Softcover, 142 pages, mono photographs and colour plates.
Jack McKenney was an active diving adventurer, writer and cinematographer who was once an editor for the Petersen Publications magazine Skin Diver. He assisted in the production of the Nick Nolte film The Deep, as a cameraman and a stuntman, and doubled for Nolte in the shark frenzy sequence in whicj he did a free ascent through the midst of their melee. His favourite wreck, if that could be judged by the number of dives that he did on it, was the passenger liner Andrea Doria. He was well liked for his easy-going attitude and friendliness. I know this as I had the pleasure of hosting him in Melbourne during the seventies when we invited him to attend an Oceans Congress. I use the past tense when describing Jack because he passed away many years ago, on 17 December 1988; he was just fifty years old. This biography covers some of his many adventures. Chapters include: The Early Dayys, Deepest Free Dive, Many Sharks I Have Known, The Devilfish of El Bajo, The Stygian Underworld, The Andrea Doria, The World's Largest Octopus - and a chapter on Underwater Photography.
From the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame website: McKenney was instrumental in initiating and instructing underwater photo classes in the early 70’s. McKenney had his work published in many different books and magazines including National Geographic. While Editor of Skin Diver Magazine, McKenney traveled around the world to report on dive conditions and activities. McKenney also published a book entitled Dive To Adventure. McKenney produced more than 30 underwater documentaries in his lifetime, five of which were for DEMA (Diving Equipment Manufacturers Association). [ps]
A simple title - Diver. Thats what most of you who read this are no doubt are. This could be a book about comfortable recreational diving in warm tropical waters on the Great Barrier Reef, or a jaunt after bottles under Portsea pier - but it's not. We recreational divers may share the same word to describe our pastime, but when it comes to military and commercial diving, there is no further comparison. If you have ever thought of moving across (up? down?) to the military/commercial field, then read this book first. It may encourage you. Or, as in my case, it may lead to the realisation that ‘no son of mine will ever be a deep sea diver'. Not if he is a wimp like his Dad, anyway! This is an excellent book. Tony Groom will never win a literary award, but thats a greater part of the beauty of the book. He writes with an honesty of style, describing his in- and out-of-the-water experiences after several decades of military and commercial diving. And those experiences are worthy of reading: a Royal Navy trained demolition diver who has experienced war (you should know which one if the time period is the 1980s), and went into the commercial field in 1985. He tells of what you are likely to experience in taking up one of the most demanding, and danegrous, jobs in the world - and why you should avoid a tourist trip to Nigeria, avoid (some of) the girls in Newcastle (UK), and what to do when you confront a prick with a stick!! Oh yes, and don't mix it with Geordie Shorty. Guaranteed you wont put it down once you start. Softcover, 333 pages, mono and colour photos.
WITH SHARKS and other Adventures Dives.
Include practical advice for experienced divers. Jack Jackson
Beautifully photographed and presented, this is an interesting books for those who have ventured beyond the odd dive at the end of the jetty. Covers the fascinating experieinces of diving with sharks, whales, dolphons, manta rays, and turtles, potato cod and sea snakes, with locations throughoput the world, including Australia of course. There is an informative section on diving in strong currents, and wreck diving covers twelve sections including the Yongala, Andrea Doria and Truk Lagoon, and of course the Prsident Coolidge. Finally, the chspter on closed overhad environmnts includes cavern and sinkhole diving, and under the Antarctic ice. A very interesting read, informative and beautifully presented. An appendix provides a brief directory of locations with a star graded system for experience required. Softcover, large A4 format, 160 pages, full colour throughout.
AROUND THE SOUTH SEAS
Published by: Robert Hale Ltd, London in 1959.
Hard back with blue boards and dust jacket; 191 printed pages. Dimensions: 22 cms tall by 14 cms wide.
Illustrated with 21 monochrome photographs.
This is the authors story of his “adventure” island hopping across the Pacific Ocean on his 34 foot yawl “Spindrift”. The voyage started in San Francisco and finished in his native Australia, actually in Sydney (he originally came from the central Queensland town of Ukalunda). Among his experiences, he dived for pearl shell on Thursday Island, shot crocodiles on Ellangowan Island, and experiences a hurricane. [pt]
BELLS - WELL DONE - A Diver's Story
This is an excellkent read, a personaal biography of a British army diver, combat diver and commercial diver. From the book: "There are three main directions with which a person can pursue the activity of diving. These are 'Commercial Diving' as a job, 'Military Diving' as a job/ qualification to aid the Armed Forces in their aims and as a 'Recreational Diver' as a sport or hobby pastime. Tony Liddicoat is one of the rare individuals who has pursued all of these types of diving activity and has mastered each of them. In this book he writes down his progression through all three disciplines, managing to combine and mix all three during his nearly 50 year diving career. As you will read, his diving adventures have taken him around the world, to every ocean and to many different lands. He has experienced the extremes of climate and terrain and has undertaken many challenges. These vary from diving, the inside of a Nuclear Reactor, placing and detonating explosive charges, searching for bodies in sewers or training potential divers on a tropical island. The book covers Tony's diving life and we re-dive all his old haunts with him, without exaggeration or embellishment.
Softcover, 370 pages, mono photographs, glossary, no index.
The real story behind the tragic honeymoon death of Tina Watson.
Linday Simpson & Jennifer Cooke.
Pan Macmillan Australia, Sydney, 2010. Softcover, 456 pages, colour plates, index.
From blurb: At 10.42 a.m. on 22 October 2003, while diving on the wreck of the SS Yongala on the Great Barrier Reef, an American tourist photographed his new wife for their honeymoon album. Instead the photo would become a vital police exhibit. On the right-hand side of the shot, Tina Watson's body lay 27 metres down on the ocean floor, one arm outstretched, reaching upwards. This is the photograph that shocked millions across Australia and the US. How could a healthy young woman have died, a mere seven minutes into her dive, when Gabe Watson, her buddy and husband of only eleven days, was a certified rescue diver? And why did he later relay sixteen different versions of what happened that day to other divers, police, friends and family? Did he cold-bloodedly shut off her air or did he panic after claiming her flailing arms dislodged his mask and regulator? When he ascended to the surface, was it to get help or to callously abandon his bride to her ultimate fate? These remain the captivating questions at the heart of this true-life thriller. Researched across two continents, Honeymoon Dive is in turns disturbing and enthralling as it painstakingly reconstructs events behind one of Australia's most darkly fascinating tragedies.
An excellent coverage of the tragic incident, arrest, release, arrest, trial, judgement. But who really knows what happened? [ps]
BUOYANCY - Adventures in a Liquid World
Penguin Books, 2001.
Softcover paperback, 345 pages, mono prints.
It is encouraging to see that the diving world is attracting excellent writers, and Ecott, who is with the BBC World Service, is superb. I found it hard to put down as he covers so many areas of interest. I excepted an autobiography, but this is not so, although he writes of his mny travels to dive estinations, including the Pacific. Instead we have a book entwining the history of diving with the lives and achievements of those still alive who can thier story. He interviews Hans Hass, Robert Croft, Bob Barth, Umberto Pelizzari and many others, and speaks of the Haldanes, LePrieur, Louis de Corlieu, of sponge divers and competitive free divers. Added to these wonderful vignettes of diving life, he includes much of the development of diving and diving interest in the various countries he visits, and is never short of words to describe the local people, particulartly those who dive. Older exploits, such as sponge diving in Greece, treasure diving, and world war two frogmen are also included with fascinating relevance. A truly great book. And let's face it - Penguin are tough on authors - they don't publish rubbish. [ps]
THE DEAD. An Australian Story of Death and Survival.
You may remember the tragedy. It is January 2005. The scenario was simple. Man dies in deep crater hole in Africa. His remains are found ten years later.Aussie diver attempts to recover it. He dies in the valliant attempt. There was much discussion within the Australian diving community at the time, centered around the risks involved, but few (of us) would ever be able to imgine the dedication and skill required for deep penetration - and this was deep, 270 metres. This was no misplaced bravado by a gung-ho diver. Dave Shaw was a respected Cathay Pacific pilot, living in Hong Kong, a mature remarkable man of fifty. So, what went wrong? From the inside cover blurb: "Wearing some of the most advanced diving equipment ever developed, Shaw descended. Just below the surface was a narrow fissure in the dolomite bottom of the basin. He slipped through the opening and disappeared from sight.... Twenty minutes later (he) was dead." Why do men (and women) stretch themselves to the edge of physical credibility - to the extremes of their sport. Perhaps it is because they have the imagination and intelligence to do so. Sometimes however, the challenge proves fateful. The author is well qualified to do justice to the tragedy being a professional journalist and author, and experienced cave diver. A remarkable read. Softcover, 310 pages, index, colour plates. Softcover
Subtitle: Gas Attacks, Miner’s Canaries, Spacesuits and the Bends: The Extreme Life of Dr J S Haldane
Published by: Simon & Schuster (UK) Ltd in 2007.
Brown hard back covers with dustjacket; 422 printed pages. Dimensions: 22.5 cms tall by 14 cms wide
Taken from dustjacket: “John Scott Haldane endured the most startling environments of his age. As miners died in pursuit of coal, this Scottish aristocrat with the family motto ‘Suffer’ gulped down cocktails of toxic gas to learn what poisoned them. Striding through the inferno of underground disasters, it was he who introduced canaries to miners as a way of testing toxicity for air. As a non-swimmer, he jumped overboard in a full diving suit to solve the problem of ‘the bends’ . And as German scientists released poison gas into the trenches of the first world war, Haldane fronted the Allied response. He breathed mixtures of deadly substances to learn what the enemy were using, then gassed himself and even his son to devise the first gas mask”. The book is divided into 18 chapters: “Why Miners Die”, “Son of Scotland”, “In the Footsteps of Goethe”, “Bad Air”, “Man as Bird or Mouse”, “The Home Front”, “Gulping Deadly Gasses”, “Underground Realms”, “Heat, Sweat and Larval Worms”, “Bubbles in the Brain”, “Life on the Cherwell”, “Pikes Peak”, “Prelude to War”, “Gas Attack”, “Deep Oxygen”, “Next Stop, Everest”, “Philosophy at a Canter” and “The Greatest Physiological Self-Experiment of All”. [pt]
‘Forty Crazy Years Under Water' - a collection of interesting and humourrous anecedotes from an instructor and retailer. "Its been forty years of laughs, adventures, and interactions with some pretty spectacular people". I particularly liked the chapter on "Scuba Students to Remember', and ‘Is Scuba For You?' covering 18 misconceptions of scuba (all of which, by the way, are covered in Peter Stone's Dive Australia). A very interesting and funny book. Softcover, 204 pages, all text.
Hillary Hauser (editor).
The ideal book not only for the armchair aquanaut but also the serious recreational and commercial diver who wants to read of the life of several brilliant men and women whohave achieved something extraordinary, but also have the ability to string more than two words together in a most readable manner. Here we have an anthology of remarkable essays from Peter Benchly, David Doubilet, Hans Hass, Cousteau of course, William Beebe, Jules Verne, Herman Melville, Joe McInnes, Henry Siebe, Lloyd Bridges. Sylvia Earle, Harry Rieseberg, Robert Marx, Dick nderson, Rodney Fox, Philippe Diole, Phillipoe Tailliez. I'm surprised that Guy Gilpatrick is not included - and damn it, they missed me out, again. Each author's contribution commences with a potted history of their life. This is truly an excellent book. Hardcover, dust jacket, 508 pages, and not one photo to distract you from the superb writing.
FIRESIDE DIVER, edited by Bonnie Cardone.
An Anthology of Underwater Adventure. A collection of thirty-three stories about the sea - mainly below the surface - by sixteen authors, including the renown photographers Howard Hall, Bob Talbot and Chris Newbert, the late Jack McKenney, artist extraordinaire Richard Ellis, film-makers Stan Waterman (sorry, Stanton A. Waterman) and the humorist Dick Anderson - and a few others of note, more to American divers than to us downunder. Subject themes cover shipwrecks and salvage, underwater photography and adventure diving - 'Mugged by a Squid', 'Trapped Underwater by a Great White Shark" (wow!!!), and 'How to Paint a Whale' (by Ellis of course). Fireside Diver will not make it into a bibliography of great literature but the stories are interesting, and some amusing. A very interesting read. Softcover, 326 pages, a few mono photographs.
GREAT DIVING ADVENTURE
Published by: The Oxford Illustrated Press, Sparkford, Somerset, UK in 1986.
Illustrated hard back covers with matching dustjacket; 252 printed pages. Dimensions: 22.5 cms tall by 14 cms wide
The book contains the author’s personal accounts of his diving experiences around the world in places like the Indian Ocean, English Channel and the Atlantic for example. It is divided into 9 chapters: “Adventures in Arabia”, “Salad Days”, “In the Cradle of Diving”, “Caribbean Corals”, “Diving for Treasure in Bermuda”, “Wonderland in the Wilderness”, “Sunken Tombs of Truk Lagoon”, “Nature on a Knife Edge” and finally “Shipwrecked”. Illustrated with 13 colour photographs (some full page) and seven line drawn maps. Other books in the Oxford Illustrated Press series include “The Great Cave Diving Adventure”, “The Great Railway Adventure” and “The Great Climbing Adventure” plus many more. [pt]
A Father and Son's Fatal Descent into the Ocean's Depths.
Harper Collins Publishers, New York. 2000.
Hardcover, dustjacket, 356 pages, coliur plates and drawings, no index, author's note. Also available in softcover.
I havn't read the book but I understand from many clients that it is a superb book even though the subject matter iss rather depressing. Perhaps that is the reason I am not rushing to read it. But no doubt books like this help us to better understand the dangers of diving, and more importantly, how to overcome the problems to improve our understanding for the sake of diver safety.
From the fly: Chris and Chrissy Rouse, an experienced father-and-son scuba diving team, hoped to achieve widespread recognition for their outstanding but controversial diving skills. Obessed and ambitious, they sought to solve the secrets of a mysterious, undocumented World War 11 German U-boat that lay under 230 feet of water, only a half-days mission from New York Harbour. T'hey paid the ultimate price in their quest for fame. This gripping narrative recounts the Rouses' growing lust for what many consider the world's most dangerous sport - as well as for the cowboy culture of the deep diving community. Father and son were only eighteen years apart in age, and their constant battles of will earned them the nickname "the Bickcr Brothcrs". Many friends wondered which would win out if it came down to a life-or-death diving situation: Chris's protective instincts or Chrissy's desire to surpass his father's successes. In the surreal topographies of underwater caves and shipwrecks, divers can encounter the unfathomable. Some get lost until their air expires, some get hopelessly tangled in cables, some are drawn to deep chambers from which they never emerge, and some make simple human effors. The sport's best may eventually find themselves in silt-filled water, dark as night, and pinned by dislodged wreckage. If they panic and use up their air, they put themselves at risk of or of what divers feat the most - decompression sickness, or "the bends". [ps]
For Italian edition.
ME THE WRECK JOHNNY
Memories of Kelly Tarlton: The Man Behind the Legend.
The Halcyon Press, Auckland, New Zealand. 1996.
Softcover, 192 pages, mono and colour plates.
Another book on this genuine legend - and genuine man. It would be difficult, and is perhaps meaningless, to ccompare the two Kelly Tarlton biographies (see above), but I do like the easy-going style of this book and the tell-it-the-way-it-is annecdotes. Kelly has left many physical legacies to perpetuated his deserved legend status, as well as his two charming daughters Nicole and Fiona to wife Rosemary: the Museum of Shipwrecks at Pahia on the old trader Tui, the jewellery collection from the Tasmania, and of course the Aquarium at Auckland just to name a few. This excellent book covers various aspects of his life as: The Husband, The Father, The Mate, The Dreamer, The Financier, The Competitor, The Risk-Taker, The Naturalist/Inventor, The Dreamer Sleeping, The Man, and finally - The Spirit Lives On. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of meeting Kelly, indeed his whole family, will remember him a genuine person, dedicated to his family and his life and determined in what he did.. This is indeed what legends are made of, for he has left those of us who knew him with the most pleasant of experiences, and those who didn't meet him with can see the results of his life's work at several places. [ps]
Published by McClelland and Stewart Limited, Toronto, 1974.
Softcover, 142 pages, mono photographs.
It seems like a generation ago when Dr Joe MacInnis came to Melbourne for an Oceans Congress in the seventies, and I guess it is. This remarkable man had achieved so much by the time he reached forty - and that was three decades ago. "His work, and that of hoss fellowe researcher, is adding to Canada's knowledge of its water resources, and to mankind's." Shocking prose but that what Prime Minister Trudeau said in 1974. This biography, of half of Joe MacInnis' life, is encouraging reading, and includes chapters such as Internship (whoch he did in 1963), Treasure Island, Man-In-Sea (habitat project, 1964), One Hundred Fathoms, South American Salvage, The Ice Lovers, Diving Beneath Arctic Ice (1972). In subsequent years he was the man who led the first team of scientists to dive under the North Pole and was among the first to dive to the Titanic. He iss a physician-scientist, best-selling author, conservationist, and a passionate believer in "deep leadership." [ps]
Publishers and Distributors
303 Commercial Road, Yarram, Vic 3971, Australia
Phone (03) 5182 5108 International 61 3 5182 5108
homepage, link on graphic.