Monday, December 30, 2013
Trapped Under the Sea: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men, and a Disaster Ten Miles Into the Darkness
The harrowing story of five men who were sent into a dark, airless tunnel hundreds of feet under Massachusetts Bay to do a nearly impossible job-with deadly results
In the 1990s, Boston built a sophisticated waste treatment plant on Deer Island that was poised to show the country how to deal with environmental catastrophe. The city had been dumping barely treated sewage into its harbor, coating the seafloor with a layer of "black mayonnaise." Fisheries collapsed, wildlife fled, and locals referred to floating tampon applicators as "beach whistles." But before the plant could start operating, 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; two never came out. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and thousands of documents, award-winning reporter Neil Swidey re-creates the tragedy and its aftermath in an action-packed narrative. The climax comes when the hard-partying DJ Gillis and his friend Billy Juse trade jobs at a pivotal moment in the mission, sentencing one diver to death and the other to a trauma-induced heroin addiction that eventually lands him in prison. Trapped Under the Sea reminds us that behind every bridge, highway, dam, and tunnel-behind the infrastructure that makes modern life possible-lies unsung bravery and extraordinary sacrifice
I have not heard about the huge Boston harbor clean up project. Of course this might have something to do with the fact that I do not live in Boston or have never visited. Yet when I saw this book as one that I had a chance to review I jumped on it. I do enjoy reading about true stories. If the stories are told right then my as the reader will grow attached to the people in the stories. Which is what happened in this book. Getting to know DJ, Riggs, Hoss, Billy, and Tim, I felt like I had known these guys for a long time.
While at times I did feel like I wanted to know more about the project and not about the guys and their lives, I did realize that knowing their stories is part of the whole story. Also, this book is thick but it reads fast. I am sad that good people had to lose their lives due to poor choices by big corporations. If you are a fan of nonfiction then you should check this book out.