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The Darkness Below
The Darkness Below
by Rod Macdonald
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Wreck Diving Book Ever!, 30 Oct. 2011
This review is from: The Darkness Below (Paperback)
Even the name of Rod McDonald's latest book has the air of a thriller novel; and if you're a dive junkie like me, then that's exactly what it is.

Although I'm not a techy, I love wreck diving within my limits and like many other devotees, I've made pilgrimages to dive wrecks in Scapa Flow, the Sound of Mull, the North Atlantic and a few more exotic locations around the globe.

And that's the real thriller of `The Darkness Below'. Rod not only reveals the facts of lesser known and enduringly fascinating wrecks in locations I'm familiar with, he goes even further; exposing the history of other maritime classics I would never have known about. That's why this book is so different.

Like many other commentators, Rod could have chosen the easy path and concentrated on the more commonly known wrecks. But he'd just have been delivering re-hashed information presented from his perspective. Because Rod refuses to do that, it's what makes `The Darkness Below' a refreshingly great read.

The book itself is excellently arranged. The many illustrations combined with Rod's in-depth descriptions and the wealth of both historical and anecdotal information doesn't leave the reader wanting.

Often I'll read a book on wrecks only to find myself disappointingly asking very obvious questions due to the lack of basic information. You won't find that in `The Darkness Below'. It challenges and pulverises the senses with information. It truly is an excellent and informative read and a book you'll find yourself returning to repeatedly for another fix.

If I could sum it all up, I'd say for me `The Darkness Below' is like a fusion of the most exciting presentations I've watched on National Geographic or Discovery; and reminiscent of the pioneering explorations of Cousteau. And as the opening chapter acknowledges: the late great Monsieur Cousteau may have been your idol Rod, but you're equally trail-blazing an awe-inspiring path yourself.


Wrecks & Reefs of Southeast Scotland: 100 Dives from the Forth Road Bridge to Eyemouth
Wrecks & Reefs of Southeast Scotland: 100 Dives from the Forth Road Bridge to Eyemouth
by Mike Clark
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.90

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Have in Your Dive Locker, 9 Mar. 2011
The first thing I noticed about Mike's book is that it delivers exactly what the name says. It's absent of flowery language which other writers frequently use only to pad out a topic, yet it still provides in-depth information; but most importantly from a diver's perspective.

Yes I want to know details about the history of a wreck, the marine life on a reef and the topography, but I don't want to read all that, only to discover at the end of an article that there's little or no information about how to get there; tides; coordinates; type of dive; skill level; entry points; dive centres; parking and amenities. Fortunately Mike's book delivers all that. It really has a fresh perspective. It not only provides updated information on many well known sites, it also includes information on numerous other locations, which are not commonly known to divers unfamiliar with that coastal area. So for a West Coaster like me, this book really delivers.

At least a couple of times a year some buddies and I will charter a boat either from Burntisland, Dunbar, Eyemouth, or St. Abbs. We usually stick to the main dives including Bass Rock, Craig Leith, Isle of May, Weasel Loch and the Campania. But in truth that's only because these are the main locations of which we have any real knowledge. `Wrecks And Reefs Of Southeast Scotland' definitely expands that knowledge.

What I particularly like about this book is the number of shore dives covered. As someone who frequently dives mid-week, it's not always practical to charter a boat or journey with a rhib, (especially if I've to return for the school run). The inclusion of these many great shore dives, which are less than a couple of hours drive from Glasgow, have significantly added to the alternatives in my locker.

Anyway, getting back specifically to the book. Mike is foremost known as one of the UK's leading dive photographers, and gratefully this does not escape `Wrecks And Reefs'. Each of the 100 dives featured is accompanied by a picture taken by Mike and all of these illustrations clearly underline the book's expectations. What I like about Mike's photographs is that they are cleverly brilliant but never contrived. They manage to highlight in a `matter of fact' manner what a diver is likely to see, (with a little patience and Scottish weather permitting).

But the big bonus about Mike's book is that it combines as both a reference and guide. I have numerous books on dive sites along the Scottish Coast, but generally, these concentrate on the history and topography. They are great as a reference, but more often than not fall short and I have to look elsewhere for information on how to actually get there, where I can charter a boat, what the diver requirements are, etc., etc. And this is what makes `Wrecks and Reefs of Southeast Scotland' stand out.

It really is a book you can throw in your dry bag and take with you with the confidence that you can actually rely upon it like any other integral piece of your dive kit.

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