Trapped Under the Sea: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men, and a Disaster Ten Miles Into the Darkness - Neil Swidey

In the late 1980s Boston harbour is a filthy and polluted stretch of water. In order to clean up the waters, the Deer Island Sewage Treatment plant is being build. The centerpiece of this sewage plant is a 10-mile long tunnel located directly under Boston harbour. In the end of its completion, the tunnel has no lights, no breathable air and only one exit, but the tunnel isn´t functional just yet. At the far end, 10 miles out to the sea, in the deep dark, deep sea divers have to work under these miserable conditions, relying on a never before tested breathing apparatus to keep them alive. Five divers go in, only three come out alive.


This is a good book, but I can´t say that I enjoyed it to the fullest. I have a mild form of claustrophobia and the tunnel chapters have been gutwrenching and harrowing. Thankfully Swidey doesn´t explain to the fullest just how narrow these tunnels and pipes are or what the divers felt when they had to crawl into a narrow pipe, so I was still able to distance myself from the things that happened down there. However, if youre claustrophia is more severe, stay clear of this book. It will haunt you.


Swidey really excels at explaining in layman terms how the tunnel works and the problems that has arisen throughout its completion, problems that has ultimately led to the catastrophe. And you can´t help but getting angry at the various parties involved in the project, for not seeing that this whole endeavour has been doomed right from the beginning.

Unfortunately I couldn´t relate to the divers at all. Swidey tries to make the reader invested in them through telling about their lives and their families at home, but this didn´t work on me. I would have felt the same for these five guys, whether I would have known something about them or not. And this is my biggest complain about this book. When it comes to non-fiction I have to feel something for the people in their perilous situation to enjoy it to the fullest. And it shouldn´t be total indifference.


Overall it´s a good book, but when it comes to non-fiction there are better books out there.