Saturday, February 1, 2014

Trapped Under the Sea, by Neil Swidey

Rating: 5/5
407 pages
Publisher: Crown
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers

My copy is an uncorrected proof.

Description: In the 1990s, Boston built a sophisticated waste treatment plant on Deer Island that was poised to show the country how to rebound from environmental ruin. The state had been dumping barely treated sewage into the waterfor so long that Boston had had America's filthiest harbor, with a layer of "black mayonnaise" coating the sea floor. Fisheries collapsed, wildlife fled, and locals referred to floating tampon applicators as "beach whistles." But before the dumping could stop, a team of divers had to make a perilous journey to the end of a 10-mile-tunnel, devoid of light and air, to complete the construction. Five went in, but not all of them came out. (from the backcover)

Review: This book tells a compelling real life story and explains a bunch of technical things that readers are less likely to be familiar with, (diving, sewage treatment, the law) in ways that are easily understandable but don't feel overly simplified. I came away from the book feeling that I understood, what went wrong and why.

Its not without it's flaws, there are certain digressions that, while its clear why the author included them, don't really flow into the narrative very well. (This may be dealt with in the published version.) Also, we don't get to learn as much about some of the players as I would have liked, but I suspect that's partly due to who was more likely to be cooperative with people writing about this incident.

Well worth the read if the description sounds even vaguely interesting to you.

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