Librarians are abuzz about Neil Swidey’s new book TRAPPED UNDER THE SEA: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men, and a Disaster Ten Miles Into the Darkness. It’s 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. 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.
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Early Librarian Praise:
“When attempting to solve Boston Harbor’s sewage problem, the city decided to build a 10 mile long tunnel to filter the waste. Grossly behind schedule, the builders, designers and committees focused little attention on how to remove the plugs, the last step in making the tunnel functional. After removing the air supply, communications and electricity, a team of divers was sent into the dark, frigid tunnel to finish the work. Immediately their breathing systems began to malfunction, yet they continued on with the job. On that fateful Wednesday, five divers went in and three came out.
This was a fascinating book. I couldn’t put it down and found myself reading throughout the night. The stupidity of the management was staggering. After everything was done, the finger pointing commenced while the three divers were left stricken and emotionally damaged. This was a piece of history I had never heard of before. Overall, highly recommended.”
Mary Young – Librarian at Uncle Remus Regional Library System
“This was a riveting story – about a project I never knew existed. I liked the way the author balanced telling the stories of the blue-collar workers putting their lives on the line with the machinations of the large companies and organizations making the life-and-death decisions.”
Laura Bovee – Librarian at Chicopee Public Library
“In Boston in the 1990′s the city was set to unveil an environmental masterpiece; a wastewater treatment plant that would clean up America’s dirtiest harbor. The plant was built on Deer Island and connected to the mainland through a 10 mile tunnel. Before the plant opened, a team of five divers would swim the entire length of tunnel to make test the integrity of the line. None of them made it out alive. In the ensuing media storm politicians pointed fingers at engineers and vice versa. Lawyers and vultures, swarmed; but little was known of the five men who last their lives – until now. Swidey takes a look at the men, their families and the fallout.
Swidey takes a surprisingly little known disaster and put a human face on it. Heartbreaking and sobering.”
Rosemary Smith – Librarian at RSU 18 Williams Library
More Great Reviews for Trapped Under the Sea:
“With the pacing and feel of a special-ops adventure and the insight of a public-policy investigation, Swidey details the lives of the divers, leading up to their fateful mission, the horrors of the ordeal, and its aftermath as the survivors coped with trauma and guilt.”
—Booklist, starred review
“Gripping…This virtuoso performance combines insights into massive engineering projects, corporate litigation, environmental science, and cutthroat free-market behavior with vivid personal stories.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Enlightening…Provides immense detail about the challenges, solutions, politics, management, legalities, and personnel involved in a huge, expensive, necessary project that transformed Boston Harbor from an open sewer into a recreational area…yet never loses sight of the people involved.”
—Library Journal, starred review
“A story of infrastructure told on a human scale and a trenchant reminder that the modern metropolis comes with high risks and savage costs.”