The Infernal Diver by John Bevan

THE INFERNAL DIVER by John Bevan is a diving book unlike any other you have read or are likely to read. It tells a true story of the two pioneers and inventors of the diving helmet who were conveniently forgotten by those who later claimed the credit. Pick up almost any book that deals, even passingly, with the history of diving and you will read that Augustus Siebe invented the diving helmet early in the 19th century. Alexander McKee was the first to suspect that brothers John and Charles Deane were the true inventors, and Siebe the leading manufacturer of their designs.
This is the gripping story of the triumphs and tragedies of the Deanes. Magnificently and expertly researched, it covers their lives and dives, their wrecks and deaths.
One brother was an optimist, the other a pessimist; one successful, one doomed to failure and a grisly end. They started from a poverty-stricken background to become the worlds first commercial and military divers.
Their story moves from London around the British Isles as they search for wrecks and treasure. John Deane became Britains diving and explosives expert in the Crimea, where he won the nickname The Infernal Diver.
The writers research reveals other characters, such as the self-effacing but brilliant engineer George Edwards of Lowestoft, who first proposed the loose flange. This made the original Deane helmet safer by bolting it on to the suit, so that the diver would not drown if he leaned forward.
John Bevan, the Chairman of the Historical Diving Society, researched the Deanes for more than ten years, gaining a PhD in the process! He has righted a wrong while producing both a reference and an exciting story.
The book is beautifully produced and illustrated with more than 180 photographs, drawings and maps, and 24 colour plates. The first edition is limited to 1000 numbered (and if required signed) copies.
Although far from cheap, this book would make a wonderful present for a departing DO or Branch Chairman. Every serious diver should have one!

The Infernal Diver by John Bevan, Submex (0171 3733069). Hardback £59.