Trapped Under the Sea: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men, and a Disaster Ten Miles into the Darkness

Neil Swidey. Crown, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-307-88672-9
Since the opening of Boston’s immense Deer Island Sewage Treatment Plant in September 2000, the “giant, stinking cesspool” of Boston Harbor has cleared significantly in what has been widely hailed as an environmental engineering triumph. This gripping history focuses on construction of its business end: the world’s longest dead-end tunnel, which travels 9.5 miles though bedrock, ending in 55 vertical pipes that diffuse effluent far out to sea. In hindsight, disaster was inevitable, since the project’s contract stated that these pipes’ 55 safety plugs could be extracted only when the tunnel was complete—meaning all drainage, ventilation, transportation, and electrical systems were removed. Commercial divers tackled the job. Years of research and interviews by Boston journalist Swidey (The Assist: Hoops, Hope, and the Game of their Lives) has produced a fascinating account of these skilled blue-collar men and their mission, aborted when a malfunctioning oxygen supply killed two of them. While others later completed the job, Swidey describes the years of bitterness and litigation that followed. This virtuoso performance combines insights into massive engineering projects, corporate litigation, environmental science, and cutthroat free-market behavior with vivid personal stories. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, Wylie Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/2013
Release date: 02/18/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-307-88674-3
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4676-6649-7
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-307-88673-6
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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