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Trapped Under the Sea by Neil Swidey

trappedNeil Swidey has written a book that will just infuriate you.  Fast paced and shocking, Trapped Under the Sea: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men and a Disaster Ten Miles Into the Darkness is also a reminder to us that a lot of things that we take for granted like big buildings and bridges, tunnels and dams are rarely built without someone dying on the job.  The author points out that we don’t really pay any attention when we hear about a worker or two dying on a construction site-blue collar deaths don’t generally grab national headlines unless more than a couple die at once.  Well, if you didn’t know, there are actually workers who dive down under the sea and do construction work down there like welding, bolting things together, etc.  Whenever I’ve thought of diving, I’ve always thought of scuba or free diving-believe me, this is not leisure, these guys are working hard and in danger every minute.  In this book, a group of divers is hired to finally finish a huge way over budget and years behind schedule sewer tunnel being built under Boston Harbor.  This tunnel has no breathable air, no lights, and the job is 10 miles inside the tunnel.  After spending hundreds of millions of dollars and years constructing the tunnel, now the tunnel project managers are in a big hurry to finish and want to save money on the last bits of the project.  Add to this an egotistical engineer who concocts a never seen before breathing apparatus that all the big wigs sign off on and you have a disaster in the making.  When the construction divers question whether or not it will work, they’re treated with contempt and told to just do as they’re told.   Day one in the tunnel: glitches with their supplies.  Day two in the tunnel :glitches with their supplies.  Day three: deaths.  If you thought I was going to say day three, plans were scrapped and the planners went back to the drawing board you’d be wrong.  The heroes of this project weren’t cutting the ribbons to open it, weren’t on TV or in the news, they were the workers, several of whom the author gets to know very well.  Riveting and hard to forget.

Stacy W.

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