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Raising the Dead: A True Story of Death and Survival Hardcover – 3 Mar 2008
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‘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
About the Author
Phillip Finch is a journalist and author of more than ten books, both novels and non-fiction. He began his professional life as a 19-year-old reporter for the Washington Daily News; he moved on to the San Francisco Examiner and later became a front-page columnist for the Peninsula Times Tribune in Palo Alto. Formerly a member of an alpine search-and-rescue team, he has had a long interest in extreme sports and the people who pursue them. He is also an experienced cave diver.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
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.
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. So many different ways to cause death.
More than that this is a story of bonding and friendship of like-minded men; unproclaimed achievement, but above all, great personal tragedy for the families of those associated with the events in Bushman's hole in South Africa. It is a frightening book but very rewarding to read.
It was around this time that our team got news of Dave Shaw and his tragic death in South Africa. None of us knew Dave. Many of the world’s leading big name divers at that time were very public or high-profile with their activities. Unlike the professional divers we were, Dave Shaw had a ‘normal job’ and diving was his hobby. As a result few outside or even inside the diving industry would know his name or appreciate the level of his achievements.
As a re-breather diver Dave Shaw was further removed from the glare of the world stage then dominated by the exploits of the open circuit record-chasing deep divers. Upon hearing the news I duly noted that re-breathers were probably dangerous at great depths and that Dave Shaw must have been operating well outside his qualifications and experience. His name would crop up from time to time and then as books and TV documentaries entered the fray he became the subject of folklore which invariably meant that many would know his name without actually knowing very much about him personally.
Until this week … I was one of those people.
I have generally steered away from diving ‘death’ books because a great deal of them are sensational, inaccurate and instrumental in separating me from my would-be customers – scuba diving students. With a title like ‘Raising the Dead’ I didn’t expect anything different but following the insistence of a recent tech diving student I downloaded a Kindle copy and began reading.
Phillip Finch has done a great job in putting the record straight and for me his biggest achievement in this book is turning hearsay and rumour into unequivocal fact. It is one thing to conduct extensive research and interviews but another in presenting the finds. With an eye for deep diving exploits I found this story very honest, balanced and widely-encompassing; each area covered was highly relevant either directly or indirectly to exactly why Dave Shaw attempted his fateful dive.
An area of concern for me was Dave Shaw’s diving experience which appeared short on logged dives but rich in content, attitude and preparation. Has a diver been diving 20 years or just 1 year 20 times? Is it all about number crunching or what you learn each and every time you venture underwater? It’s a question the author leaves for the reader but not everyone is the same and we have to remember that Dave Shaw’s deep diving activities won the respect and admiration of the country’s leading cave diving instructor long before he perished.
Raising the Dead author, Phillip Finch also passed away a little later in 2012 but he left the deep diving community with a valuable book that shows the skill, preparation, passion and discipline that goes with our often misunderstood sport. Hindsight is always a wonderful thing and despite a number of procedures that could have been handled differently I feel that having read this book the project that Don Shirley and Dave Shaw undertook was approached and carried out as professionally and humanely as was possible. I hope that will be remembered too by others.
My sincerest thanks and good wishes to the Shaw family and to Don and Andre Shirley and their diving team for allowing we the readers into their lives. When most people suffer mishap at work very few will know about it. In the technical deep diving community everybody knows about it whether we like it or not. I hope they draw strength from the fact that this literary intrusion puts the record straight, serves to enhance the knowledge bank of technical diving and ultimately makes the sport safer.
This is not a ‘death’ book it is a 'life' book. It is also a great story well told and despite what might be an obvious and tragic outcome there is an unlikely and moving twist at the very end proving that not everything ended in failure.
Diver and Author
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 .....
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
Very interesting story about cave scuba diving
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