Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Undersea Explorer is a narrative concerning the life of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, from a brief look at his pre-World War II childhood through his work as scientist and explorer into the mid-1950’s. This is not a comprehensive biography containing much personal detail but rather a treatment of Captain Cousteau’s life relating to his focus on the world beneath the surface of the sea. James Dugan spent time working with Captain Cousteau aboard the Calypso, the converted British mine sweeper that serves as a floating marine laboratory, an exploration vessel, and living quarters for Cousteau and his crew of scientists. Dugan writes in an easy-to-follow and interesting manner about his own firsthand experiences and also records stories of Cousteau’s earlier life and adventures.

Interspersed within the text are twenty-eight black-and-white photographs and line drawings. These illustrations diagram details of the equipment and techniques used in underwater exploration and provide a record of the personages who appear within the text. The book also includes fourteen color photographs that provide vivid images to accompany some of the incidents discussed within the text. The author also provides an annotated bibliography for thirteen books and periodicals to which the reader can turn for additional information and entertainment about the world under the sea.

The history of modern undersea exploration began with Jacques-Yves Cousteau before World War II. As a French navy officer, Cousteau had the opportunity to visit many places. His abiding interest in exploring the sea and in seeing the beauty beneath the waves was only partially fulfilled by his ability to dive for the amount of time that he could hold his breath. He tried using some of the earliest oxygen-breathing apparatuses but found some rather serious problems with the available equipment. The arrival of...

(The entire section is 775 words.)