The Sea King
By Brad Matsen
Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780375424137, 320pp.
Publication Date: October 20, 2009
Jacques Cousteau opened up the undersea world as no one has done before or since. But not generally know is the fascinating and compelling individual behind the acclaimed television personality.
With the cooperation of many of Jacques Cousteau’s collaborators, friends, and family, Brad Matsen gives us the first full picture of this remarkable life. Here is Cousteau working for the French resistance during World War II (for which he received France’s Croix de Guerre); developing—and risking his life to test—the regulator that made scuba diving possible; running the world’s largest scuba equipment manufacturing firm; becoming a legendary catalyst of the worldwide environmental movement; starring in The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau and in hundreds of documentaries; and publishing more than fifty books. And here is the widowed Cousteau marrying his longtime mistress—forty years his junior and the mother of two of his children—kindling a bitter family feud that continues to this day.
Vividly conveying the people, the adventure, the science, and the lure of the sea that shaped Cousteau’s life, Matsen paints a luminous portrait of a man who profoundly changed the way we view, and treat, our planet.
Advance Praise for Jacques Cousteau
"Like the subject of this book, Brad Matsen has found his true milieu; the deep ocean. Now he brings his very special brilliance to illuminate the undersea world of Jacques Cousteau. He has done a masterful job in this much-needed, revealing biography of the ocean's most illustrious adventurer, filmmaker, conservationist, and advocate."
—Richard Ellis, author of Tuna: A Love Story and On Thin Ice: The Changing World of the Polar Bear
"Jacques Cousteau was a genius who became an icon that became a legend. His legacy continues every time anyone dons a scuba tank, or even thinks of an undersea image. Matsen's book, perfect for beachside or bedside, is a worthy chronicle of a truly whale-sized life."
—Carl Safina, president and cofounder of the Blue Ocean Institute
"A marvelous story. Matsen's biography made me realize I knew almost nothing about the incredible inventor, scientist, businessman, explorer, and environmentalist that was Jacques Cousteau. I owe my career as a professional diver to him. Undoubtedly, this biography will inspire a new generation of divers to take to the water."
—John Chatterton, celebrated scuba diver and cohost of the television series Deep Sea Detectives
"I have looked into the sea all my life, and Cousteau has always been there, leading and guiding my journey. But the heroic image of the French explorer who informed, enlightened, and entertained us was as mysterious as the depths he plumbed. Now Brad Matsen shines light on the man behind the icon. A fascinating exploration of a true legend of the sea!"
—Richie Kohler, celebrated scuba diver and cohost of the television series Deep Sea Detectives