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Raising the Dead: A True Story of Death and Survival [Kindle Edition]

Phillip Finch
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A true story of death and survival in the world’s most dangerous sport, cave diving. Two friends plunge 900 ft deep into a water-filled crater in the Kalahari Desert to raise the body of a diver who had perished there a decade before. Only one returns. Unquenchable heroism and complex human relationships amid the perils of extreme sport.

On New Year's Day, 2005, David Shaw travelled halfway around the world on a journey that took him to the Kalahari Desert of South Africa, to a site known locally as Boesmansgat: Bushman's Hole. His destination was nearly 900 feet below the surface.

On 8 January, he stepped into the water. He wore and carried on him some of the most advanced diving equipment ever developed. Mounted to a helmet on his head was a video camera. David Shaw was about to attempt what had never been done before, and he wanted the world to see.

He descended. About fifteen feet below the surface was a fissure in the dolomite bottom of the basin, barely wide enough to admit him and his equipment and the aluminum tanks slung under his shoulders. He slipped through the opening, and disappeared from sight, leaving behind the world of light and life.

Then, a second diver descended through the same crack in the stone. This was Don Shirley, Shaw's friend and frequent dive partner, one of the few people in the world qualified to follow where Shaw was about to go. In the community of extreme diving, Don Shirley was a master among masters.

Twenty-five minutes later, one of the men was dead. The other was in mortal peril, and would spend the next 10 hours struggling to survive, existing literally from breath to breath.

What happened that day at Bushman's Hole is the stuff of nightmarish drama, juxtaposing classic elements of suspense with an extreme environment beyond most people’s comprehension. But it’s also a compelling human story of friendship, heroism, unswerving ambition and of coming to terms with loss and tragedy.

Product Description


‘At the bottom of the biggest underwater cave in the world, Dave Shaw found the body of a young man who had disappeared ten years earlier. What happened after Shaw promised to go back is nearly unbelievable – unless you believe in ghosts.’ Outside Magazine, USA


'At the bottom of the biggest underwater cave in the world, Dave Shaw found the body of a young man who had disappeared ten years earlier. What happened after Shaw promised to go back is nearly unbelievable -- unless you believe in ghosts.' Outside Magazine, USA

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1343 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperSport (4 Sept. 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI9OVY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #159,025 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Noel
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I don't swim and the very thought of diving is anathema to me. As for diving deep in caves - horror of horrors. I like to go high in the mountains and battle with that kind of breathing difficulty with plenty of thin fresh air. So I lifted this book off the shelf with something less than enthusiasm.

I was soon caught up in the diving world of the amateur 'sports' divers pushing the boundaries. In this case pushing just too far. There is a startling set of statistics near the end of this book 'The number of people who survive dives to 250 metres without injuries is about 10%, and at least half have lost their lives'. Here you will read of some of the real men who make that awful statistic. It is startling to realise that climbers enter the 'death zone' when more than 7,000 metres above sea level but when men go down into water the 'death zone' is no more than 250 metres below.

This book educated me in the basic science of diving and that was a revelation to me. I learned about the different breathing systems and gas mixes,their merits and risks. Also the awful pressure that a very few metres of water can place on the human body. It took me into the world of the obsessive quest of going deeper and deeper. In some ways this is the mirror image of climbers pressing on to the summit of Everest way past the time when they should have turned back. Most high moutaineering deaths occur on the descent due to exposure, fatigue, exhaustion but for these divers the real danger is in the ascent. It only takes a few minutes to sink deep into the water but many hours to return safely to the surface, pausing repeatedly to decompress every few metres of ascent, with the threat of hypothermia caused by long inactive hours under water breathing gas.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book but what about? 1 Jan. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a truly excellent book, both factually 'in-depth' as well as narratively exciting. Experienced rebreather diver or complete novice this book describes an apocryphal episode in extreme sport diving history. It sets out a definitive horizon for rebreather diving (using current technology) based on something no one either understood or expected - Carbon Dioxide exchange within the lungs at depth.

Having dived both the BioMarine MK15.5 and Inspiration myself; and having read the book in part to identify what it was that caused Dave Shaw to lose his life in this way I - have one question for the author: At the very end of the book, reference is made to two contributing factors: Hypercapnia and the assembly of the MK15.5 rebreather. The latter leads one to ask how this might have happened. I therefore back tracked to where Dave purchased the MK15.5 in the expectation that (as with any commercially sold rebreather) he would have been trained on its specifics. Alas no. The rebreather had been purchased from a collector and no account is given of any subsequent training. Specifically, such training would have described a critical assembly sequence for the lexan lidded scrubber unit - spacer and then open cell (absorbent foam filter). This would also have been shown in the MK15.5 USN manual.

So what happened here? Did Dave S teach himself? Did Don Shirley help him? Why did Dave not go to someone such as Kevin Denlay in Oz for IANTD certification prior to using it at all?
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4.0 out of 5 stars A true story of DEATH! 5 Aug. 2011
By Mr O C
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a diver I did enjoy the book, its well written and covers the topic well and in enough depth that someone with no knowledge of the sport would understand, albeit the vast depth achieved seems to be mentioned almost in passing, which may leave the uneducated to suspect all divers routinely achieve depths of 270 m's.
The names of the 2 divers in question, Dave Shaw and Don Shirley often caused me confusion as to who was who in the earlier stages, probably cause of the same starting letter, however it was a grim read.
I'm well aware of the story, divers pushing the limits of their sport find lost diver and choose to set about recovering him, and in the process become victims too, but its all the other little references throughout the book of divers dying that would make anyones 'non diving' friend truly question the mentallity of someone that pursues the sport of cave diving.
As I've said it is a bit grim, but tense and engrossing, it truly shows the capability of the human body and mind to endure. Well worth picking up a copy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down ..... 16 Sept. 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An excellent book, well written and very pacy.
Even though the bulk of the main story is laid out in the first chapter, the background fills in to build the tension before the final dive. There's quite a twist at the end, which I won't spoil by describing !
Fascinating for scuba divers, but well explained for non-divers too. I couldn't put it down .....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly outstanding. 8 Feb. 2009
I couldn't put this down.
A gripping story of friendship, adventure, survival and tragedy.

You don't have to be a diver to enjoy this book, as enough of the terminology of mixed-gas diving and rebreather technology is explained to assist the non-diver, yet not explained TOO much to bore the experienced diver.
Simply excellent.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The diving equivalent of 'Touching the Void' 27 Nov. 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I first learned about Dave Shaw and his tragic accident while researching rebreathers. A short burst of surfing later and I was reading 'Raising the Dead', an article by Tim Zimmerman for 'Outside' magazine. Before I knew it, I was viewing Dave Shaw's head cam footage, recovered after the ill-fated dive. I was almost in tears. 270 metres underwater, he might as well have been walking on the Moon. I would defy anyone not to be moved by his story.

I bought this book despite being sceptical that it would add much to what I already knew or have the same impact as my original encounter with the story. Being longer than the Zimmerman article, Finch has taken the opportunity to flesh out the personalities and roles of the participants - yet it remains a gripping, fast-paced and moving story. I read most of it in one sitting and couldn't wait to get back to it - even though I already knew how it would end. This is the diving equivalent of Joe Simpson's 'Touching the Void'.

By the way, it also provides a very brief and simple explanation of how rebreathers work and points out the hazards of breathing different gases under pressure (i.e. at depth). This book is so good that I've bought another copy for my favourite dive buddy.
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