For those of a certain age--when there was only four or five stations on TV--mandatory family viewing included Mutual of Omaha's "Wild Kingdom" and any special with Jacques Cousteau. His lilting French inflected English narrating adventures and excursions into the sea.
I was young enough that I remember the programs' atmosphere and quiet mood but not much detail. So recently, when I perusing one of the many lists of the books that everyone should read, I was struck by the listing of The Silent World by the legend himself.
The book focuses on Cousteau's early exploration years, which ramped up shortly after World War II. With his partners Phillipe Tailliez and Frederic Dumas, Cousteau worked to perfect an aqualung that would free divers from the heavy suits that populate Jules Verne type adventures.
Their experimentation was largely focused on themselves and remarkably dangerous by today's standards. The story also takes place before the realization that the abundance of the sea was finite. They are almost reckless with the species they encounter.
The accounts have a timeless quality and bring to light how little we truly about the vast majority of our planet. With chapters entitled "Monsters We Have Met" and "Sunken Ships," this slim book is perfect for the adventurer in everyone.