Rick & Barbara Carrier: Dive

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Britmarine
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Rick & Barbara Carrier: Dive

Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:15 pm

Having delivered my non-diving-related presentation to my London audience of schoolteachers and having submitted my equally non-diving-related article to a national voluntary organisation on a similar subject, I can no longer postpone Ron's invitation for me to write a review of one of the first and best examples of diving literature. Both first and second editions of the Carriers' tome have pride of place in my bookcase devoted to diving literature. Besides my lifelong interest in snorkelling, I have another reason to admire these books. Both are dedicated to "Charles Berlitz without whose interest and assistance this book would never have begun." I, and probably most others, associate Charles Berlitz with foreign language teaching, which is also how I earned my living before I retired from public education.

Rick & Barbara Carrier: (1955) Dive: The Complete Book of Skin Diving, Wilfred Funk, Inc, New York. First Edition. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 55-5481.
Rick & Barbara Carrier: (1963) Dive: The Complete Book of Skin Diving, Wilfred Funk, Inc, New York. Second Edition. Revised by Gene Parker. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 63-9014.
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Contemporary critical reviews of the first edition often dwell on the use of the adjective "complete" in the title, e.g. "It had to happen sometime - and finally there's a 'complete book of skin diving.' And we really mean complete... Chock-full of underwater information. Dive is also a treasure trove of photographs and diagrams. Whether you're a first-time frogman or a veteran hunter of the deep, you can't afford to miss this remarkable book (-Man's Magazine)." But let's begin with the opening paragraph of the book's first chapter, How it All Began: "In recent summers, vacationists finding their favorite secluded beaches suddenly swarming with bronzed young men armed with knives, spears and carbon dioxide guns, or being startled during a quiet swim by the sudden appearance in the water beside them of a 'man from Mars' complete with mask, flippers, and breathing apparatus, may have wondered what it is all about, and just how and why the sudden enthusiasm for skin diving developed." So, in 1955, "skin diving" was something of a new phenomenon bursting on to the scene in the same way as new technology has just as suddenly transformed our own lives in more recent times. In this new activity of underwater swimming we have a sense of an alien presence, the frogman as the "man from Mars", while the use of the lay word "flippers" instead of the technical term "swim fins" typifies a pioneering age when we deploy an old terminology with which we are familiar to describe anything new, in the same way as the French once gave potatoes, then a mysterious import from the New World, the name "pommes de terre", literally "earth apples."

My overall impression of the Carriers' book is also one of "completeness". How else can we describe a book giving such an authoritative account of diving history, the marine environment, aquatic fauna and flora, physiology, the panoply of commercial diving equipment, do-it-yourself projects, spearfishing, skin diving clubs and underwater photography? The book's first appendix is a glorious gift to the diving equipment historian, listing almost every item of gear that was available to the American recreational diver in the mid-1950s, not just regulators but also fins, masks, snorkels, suits, guns, all with the current pricing!

I have listed two editions of the book, the second appearing in 1963, revised by Gene Parker, who was responsible for several books and articles of his own on diving. In the second edition, Parker wisely resisted the temptation to rewrite the majority of the text, focusing instead on removing any mention of discontinued items of gear and substituting the then equivalent article. He also updated photographs of events such as spearfishing competitions. A light touch was all that was needed to relaunch the Carriers' classic work to an early-1960s audience.

I'll finish my brief review with a quotation from the closing paragraph of the book's final chapter The Unexplored Sea: "Underwater exploration is a fascinating adventure which has really only just begun. Certainly it opens up potentialities for skin diving much more interesting and worthwhile than the mere enjoyment of underwater scenery or the sport of diving and spearing fish. The sea waits ... the possibilities ... are infinite." A truly forward-looking book as well as an indispensable source for anyone wanting to study the pioneer era of our wonderful sport.

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Ron
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Re: Rick & Barbara Carrier: Dive

Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:39 pm

Excellent review David! Thanks for taking the time to do this. 8) Dive is one of my favorite books on diving, and I often give it as a gift. I wholeheartedly agree with your review. For me, it is a slice of the diving world at that time. I particularly enjoy the drawings.
The impossible missions are the only ones which succeed. -JYC

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Bryan
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Re: Rick & Barbara Carrier: Dive

Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:42 pm

I have the book on my shelf but don't remember reading it. Thanks for the information. Sounds like I better do more than look at the cover :|
Doing it right should include some common sense, not just blindly following specs and instructions. .Gary D, AWAP on SB

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Rick & Barbara Carrier: Dive And The Long Island Dophins.

Thu Jul 17, 2014 12:35 am

I was starting my Sport Diving Career about the time "Dive" was published in 1955 , I never met them and my copy isn't autographed. But an old dive buddy and mentor Graham Snediker knew them well, as the president of the Long Island Dophins, which was one of the top Dive Club in the North East back in the day,(The club was based on Long Island,New York.) I visited Graham 3 years ago and we swapped some old sea stories and talked about the early diving pioneers we knew and dove with such as June and Roy Keiser who were early Dive Instructors before accredited training came along, And early wreck diving in the NJ and NY area, one of the Keiser's students who became well known is Captain Steve Bielenda of Andrea Doria Fame.
We used Graham's copy of "Dive" and identified all the Dophins that appear in the book, Graham stated Rick and Barbara were members for a short time and came to club meetings and beach dives and would pick members brains about diving while taking photos,other then the club functions no one seemed to know them well.
It also seems no one knew the Carrier's were writing a book. Graham told me about the time the 1955 edition came out the Carriers stopped coming to meetings and were not heard of again. I tried to locate them and couldn't find any trace of any other publications by them.
I guess the publisher couldn't either,so when they wanted to correct some items and up date "Dive" they contacted Gene Parker to revise it. Gene was another NE friend who I guess passed on, can't find any trace of him either, last time I saw him was shortly before I moved to Santa Barbara,CA. from New Jersey in 1971 to attend college.

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Re: Rick & Barbara Carrier: Dive

Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:18 am

Bernie,

That's a very interesting perspective. I, and I am sure many others, would love to hear about equipment configurations and techniques for deep wreck diving back then. There is not a wealth of information on that subject, and I would love to see some of it at least anecdotally documented here before a lot of the people who did it back then stop diving.

Ron
The impossible missions are the only ones which succeed. -JYC

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Britmarine
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Re: Rick & Barbara Carrier: Dive

Fri Jul 18, 2014 5:26 am

Thanks, Popeye, for the interesting insights on the Carriers. Over the years I had assumed they were the American Hans and Lotte Hass, another "golden couple" of diving, but you're right that they seem to have left the limelight as quickly as they entered it, hence Gene Parker being drafted in to work on the second edition of "Dive" in 1963. This kind of thing wasn't unprecedented in the the pioneer era of diving, though. René Bussoz, the founder of US Divers, returned to France in 1956 to become a golf course entrepreneur:
http://www.internationallegendsofdiving.com/FeaturedLegends/rene_bussoz_bio.htm
These early times were full of such larger-than-life characters. Several other 1950s diving book writers also turned out to be one-book authors, like the Carriers.

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Re: Rick & Barbara Carrier: Dive

Fri Jul 18, 2014 8:26 am

Ron, The subject is "Dive."lets keep to subject please, I'm not interested in writing online,the books you have should give you some insight.

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frogman63
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Re: Rick & Barbara Carrier: Dive

Mon Jul 21, 2014 10:45 pm

David,
Thank you for reviewing this book. This was one of the first books my parents gave me on diving (1955 edition) and I can remember reading it over and over again as a teenager. Unfortunately, it has been sitting on my bookshelf for good number of years. Because of your review, I have started to read it again.
Thanks,
Brian

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Re: Rick & Barbara Carrier: Dive

Tue Jul 22, 2014 6:25 am

I'm delighted my modest review resonated with you, Brian. Please let us know any new insights you have after re-reading. Any book worth its mettle will make a subtly different impact when being revisited at a later stage of the reader's life. From the messages here, I can see how the Carriers' "Dive", particularly the first edition, has left a lasting impression on most people.

David

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lakediver
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Re: Rick & Barbara Carrier: Dive

Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:29 am

I also have a well worn version of a third edition of Dive (1973) which states that it is Newly Revised by Charles Berlitz. It seems to have more updated photos of dive gear and perhaps additional text also. It was available in both hard and softcover.

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Re: Rick & Barbara Carrier: Dive

Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:44 pm

lakediver wrote:I also have a well worn version of a third edition of Dive (1973) which states that it is Newly Revised by Charles Berlitz. It seems to have more updated photos of dive gear and perhaps additional text also. It was available in both hard and softcover.


Thank you, Lakediver, I don't have the third edition, just the first two. So Charles Berlitz, the inspiration and the dedicatee of the first edition became the man responsible for updating the third edition!

I've just chanced upon the following excerpt from a 1990 newspaper article at http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1990-03-25/features/9001310444_1_berlitz-method-charles-berlitz-languages/2
In 1974, he (Charles Berlitz) produced a best seller, The Bermuda Triangle, and recently he has followed it with a book about a similar region, the Dragon's Triangle in Japan. He has been a deep-sea diver "almost since they invented the first pair of goggles" and has explored a number of ruins on the ocean floor. It was the prospect of diving year-round that brought him to Fort Lauderdale in 1976. Today, in his 70s, he still dives.

I had no idea that the great linguist was also a scuba diver! I live and learn. Charles Berlitz's Wikipedia article records his death on December 18, 2003 (aged 89) in Tamarac, Florida, USA. Truly a modern Renaissance man. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Berlitz
And, finally, a picture:
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