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Fatal Depth


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About the Author

Joe Haberstroh is the "On the Waters" columnist for Long Island's Newsday. In 1997, he won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the crash of TWA flight 800.


Since 1956 the Italian luxury liner Andrea Doria has lain in 250 feet of cold Atlantic water off Nantucket-a reachable but dangerous depth for freedivers using advanced deep-sea apparati. Indeed, five ambitious divers died over the site in two seasons in the late 1990s, and the Andrea Doria site seems to operate for amateur deep sea divers as "the underwater Everest." But the quest to make it down to the Doria and back with artifacts like its first-class dinnerware, brass instruments and random fittings hardly seems noble: the last fatality in the summer of 1999 was during an attempt by a clearly underqualified diver from the Midwest in quest of an authentic liner toilet to complement his new basement dcor. Almost everyone in this account seems sublimely unaware that for many others it is this risk itself that propels the ship's wreck-diving fraternity. That includes Haberstroh, an outdoors recreation reporter for Long Island Newsday, who labors to make up for the murkiness of the Doria divers' motives by emphasizing eyewitness accounts and interviews-and even some quoted conversations from victims, which, he announces in his introduction, have no primary sources. The most conclusive chapter in Haberstroh's investigation is called, without apparent irony, "When Your Number's Up, It's Up." Like its 2001 predecessor, Deep Descent, by Kevin McMurray, this journeyman's account is a murky adventure, even for those who are familiar with the magic of scuba diving. Photo insert not seen by PW. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

"A gripping true story of treasure hunting and tragedy on the Doria, the world's most dangerous shipwreck."--Daily News "Should be required reading for all divers."--Immersed "Well researched, well interviewed, and written without frills. It doesn't need frills. Wreck diving is already on the edge, an extreme sport with virtually no margin for error. Drama is built in."--National Geographic Adventure "[This is] a well-narrated tale. Haberstroh does a deft job of laying out the character and motivations of five ill-fated divers and their guide...And Haberstroh's restraint serves him well, giving the book a fully informed breadth ... a solid, intriguing contribution to the genre." --Seattle Times and Post Intelligencer "Haberstroh gives about as close a look at the world below that you'll get without strapping on a set of steel 120s."--St. Petersburg Times "An extremely well-researched and fast-paced book."--East Hampton Star

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