Adventure nonfiction at its best by the co-author, with Gene Hackman, of Wake of the Perdido Star.
Submerged is Daniel Lenihan's remarkable story of 25 years as founder and head of the Submerged Cultural Resource Unit (SCRU)—ranging from ancient ruins covered by reservoirs in the desert Southwest to a World War II submarine off the Alaskan coast; from the Isle Royale shipwrecks in the frigid Lake Superior to the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor; from the HL Hunley, the first submarine in history to sink an enemy ship, in Charleston Harbor to the ships sunk by atomic bombs at Bikini Atoll, and much more. ... Read more
Customer Reviews (22)
Thar She Blows
"Most Elite"? What arrogance from a nobody in the diving community. Another nauseating account by a bureaucrat mooching off taxpayer funded trips and trying to justify it as notable archaeology. Lenihan and James Delgado are the two worst. They haven't discovered or located anything on their own yet they call themselves "elite" and promote there books as "adventure". Hardly. Without the risks taken by the divers who actually found these sites at their own expense, Lenihan and Delgado are just two jealous gov't employees who can only fantasize about adeventure. Are we taxpayers footing the bill for Lenihan to write this self-promotion during his work day?
If you want real adventure, read any Robert Marx book. America's most "elite" ? Bleep!
Fascinating account of a career in passionate underwater conservation
Sometimes it's hard to tell by the title what a book is all about. "Submerged -- Adventures of America's Most Elite Underwater Archeology Team" certainly sounds interesting, but I wasn't quite sure about to the exact nature of the volume. Turns, out it is the recollection of the founder and former chief of the United States National Park Service Submerged Cultural Resources Unit, a group of National Park Service divers, scientists and other professionals seeking to document and catalog shipwrecks. The "SCRU team" is thus a legitimate part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, yet it is one that's about as far removed from stereotypical deskbound civil service as one can imagine. Over a period of 25 years, author Daniel Lenihan created and crafted a team of divers whose skills and sense of adventure was second to none, yet also a group that combined astonishing underwater feats with a keen sense of archeological and anthropological imperatives.
Lenihan describes his own introduction to cave diving as one of the pioneers who developed and advanced the state of the art when the sport was young and so many died in their often ill-conceived pursuits that the government considered closing off the Florida cave systems. Like most divers, young Lenihan was intrigued by finding and recovering artifacts but, unlike most, he quickly discovered that removing them meant destroying perhaps their most intrinsic value, that of learning from the past, the setting where they were found, the condition they and their surroundings were in. In the early 1970s he studied anthropology at the University of Florida, then joined the National Park Service as a "Park Ranger/Archeologist." Lenihan's quest essentially became a fight against the mindless destruction of shipwreck sites by treasure and artifact hunters by finding and documenting them so they could be properly protected as national cultural resources, just like those above ground.
The book, divided into three parts ("Caves, Dams, Shipwrecks, and Dreams;" "The SCRU Team;" and "Reaching Out") and 22 chapters, documents Lenihan's lifelong quest, their early missions, and how his team's influence and reputation grew until it was called to work in all parts of the world, often in conjunction with the US Navy and other governmental entities. We learn about the development of underwater surveying techniques, ranging from simple measuring and triangulation all the way to sophisticated high-tech scanning and mapping systems later on.
Lenihan describes such diverse operations as diving the frigid waters around Isle Royale (a national park in Lake Superior) to map and document the wealth of shipwrecks surrounding it; to doing the first actual underwater survey of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor; to locating wrecks around Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas in the Gulf of Mexico; to potentially hazardous dives to the USS Saratoga at the bottom of Bikini Atoll that was used for nuclear tests in the 1940s and 50s; to discoveries around Micronesian islands. He describes almost impossible-to-get-to excursions into Kauhako Crater on Molokai; underwater searches in the Aleutians where tactical side-maneuvers had played a large role in the outcome of the more major seabattles of WW II; grisly rescue and recovery missions in poorly accessible locations where even Navy divers deferred; and making sure French divers properly surveyed and protected a sunken Confederate raider, the CSS Alabama, in the English Channel off the coast of France. Learning, developing, training, passing on always figure large in Lenihan's work, as does a healthy respect of the dangers of diving, and the ensuing meticulous preparation and following of diving protocol and procedures. There are many other examples, all wonderfully described in Lenihan's style that merges good storytelling with precise technical information and always a nod of appreciation towards those who helped him and his team, plus a good deal of pride in their accomplishments.
"Submerged" presents all of this in a holistic way -- recollections, experiences, reports, suggestions. Lenihan includes adventures of his youth, including cave diving trips to Mexico with such pioneers as Sheck Exley who later perished in one of the very caves they had explored, as well as hopes for the future.
This is a book about diving both as a passion and as a tool for the greater good of mankind, in this instance the preservation of underwater heritage. "My conviction, which has emerged from thirty years of diving, is that shipwrecks and underwater caves are places where one can touch the past in the most special ways," writes Lenihan who also described himself as someone who once "associated with professors and students who thought SDS, SNCC, and Abbie Hoffman were too damn conservative." Out of that counter-cultural mindset grew a sense of responsibility for our submerged heritage, and the drive to make it real, that sets a shining example of what can be accomplished when passion and purpose merge in a career, and that fortunate synthesis Lenihan successfully shares in this eminently readable and highly recommendable book.
SCRU is now the Submerged Resources Center of the National Park Service. Its website at http://home.nps.gov/applications/submerged/ contains a wealth of interesting materials, including additional materials and images of many of the SCRU projects described in the book. Some detailed reports are availabled as PDF files at http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/hisnps/submerged.htm -- C. H. Blickenstorfer, scubadiverinfo.com
I am an experienced technical diver and was fascinated with that aspect of this book. Mr. Lenihan is indeed a good story teller. I wouldn't be caught dead doing some of the dives that they did on air-- but then again they were diving years ago when no mixed gasses were easily available. I feel that I have the right to take souvenirs from shipwrecks if I've gone to the trouble and expense to get to them and they're going to just corrode away in the sea. But Mr. Lenihan makes his points about preservation without being obnoxious and self-righteous and I like that. He made me think enough about the value of these wrecks that even though I'll probably still take small souvenirs, my newly informed conscience would keep me from taking anything too nice. Don't buy this book if you want to know the best and safest ways to deep dive or cave dive. I'm not saying they aren't real good divers but they dive with air and a prayer. Still, in all, I really enjoyed it.
A deep journey
Submerged is not only the title of the book but describes my feeling when reading it. Lenihan took me on a deep journey. I'm only an amateur diver but the simple clarity of the writing allowed to me a glimpse into the professional side of underwater work. The book was compelling but I must say at times I was uneasy-there was a dark side to even the lighter narratives. He and his diving team had some of the most frightening and even bizarre experiences I've ever read about and ones I personally would not find worth the risks. Nevertheless I must give them credit for such extreme dedication to historic preservation. I read the book over three evenings and most enjoyed the personal stories. My husband found the same book interesting for very different reasons. He was most interested in the history and romance of the shipwrecks.
the stories in and of them selves for the most part are interesting however a major drawback is that he can not write. he says he is waxing prosaic. and guess what he is absolutely correct. for a much better examppe of underwater adventures and vastly superior writing would be shadow divers. the writing makes this almost unfinishable however it is written at a grade 10 level so it doesnt take much time to blow through it. newmarket press should have insisted on a real writer to tell the story . this is truly a waste of very interesting material
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