Interview in Take Part

Jacques Cousteau’s life has not been covered in biographical form since 1984, which is surprising considering he was once one of the most recognizable celebrities on the planet. Author Brad Matsen’s newest book, Jacques Cousteau: The Sea King, details the underwater pioneer’s life, from the invention of the Aqualung to Cousteau’s systematic research on underwater filming and the environmental crusade he undertook to preserve the world’s oceans.

Scrupulously researched and compelling, The Sea King reveals the various facets of a hero who was worshipped by several generations of adoring fans. Starting as a member of the French Resistance who went on undercover missions in World War II, Cousteau left a permanent impression on both the television and film worlds, partnering with a young Ted Turner and PBS, while nurturing a tumultuous relationship with his family.

To find out more about the curiosity and ambition that drove Jacques Cousteau, read on for a conversation with biographer Brad Matsen.

Q. What made you want to write about Jacques Cousteau?

A. It began 5 years ago, when I was living in New York and had just finished a book about William Bebe and Otis Barton, who were two men in a very unlikely venture to build and dive in what’s called abathysphere. They were sealed inside a steel ball 4 1/2 feet in diameter and lowered on the end of the cable into the Atlantic Ocean, becoming the first human beings ever to descend beyond sunlight and see what was in the dark ocean—it was really a remarkable bit of heroism…

Read the rest of the interview here.

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