Book Review: The Tao of Survival Underwater
Recent news releases from IANTD drew our attention to yet another in depth book from Tom Mount. The news release said.
“Tom Mount, D. Sc., Ph.D., N.D. is a diving pioneer in cave diving, deep diving, mixed gas diving, rebreather diving and wreck diving. His career also includes saturation diving, supervision of saturation diving, scientific diving and 50 years of diving leadership. While reviewing accidents in adventure sports, Tom became interested in why some survive difficult challenges while others perish in more simple predicaments, which led him to research survival mechanisms. It is apparent that the psychological and mental outlook as well as the physiological and physical demands contributes to who lives and who dies in critical situations. EXPLORATION & MIXED GAS DIVING ENCYCLOPEDIA, THE TAO OF SURVIVAL UNDERWATER addresses these issues. Joseph Dituri, M.S., is an avid rebreather, wreck and undersea explorer who pushes the technical edge of diving. A Navy Diving and Salvage Officer by trade, he continually seeks to improve his knowledge of deep diving and share his discoveries with others. Joe’s initiative has spurred changes in the way that conventional and military diving is being accomplished. He is the CEO of the Association for Marine Exploration, which conducts and facilitates innovative scientific exploration of undersea environments often in the twilight zone. While being responsible for the safety of others, Joseph developed an understanding of the physical and mental skills it takes to survive as a diver. His objective to share this knowledge is fulfilled in the pages of EXPLORATION & MIXED GAS DIVING ENCYCLOPEDIA, THE TAO OF SURVIVAL UNDERWATER. Tom Mount and Joseph Dituri are widely published and have written or contributed to numerous books, papers and many of the IANTD training materials. IANTD materials are located at http://www.IANTD.com and are available in your local IANTD Dive Shop. Tom & Joseph thank the expert contributors in their individual and collective areas for making this the definitive reference for How To Survive in Exploration Diving.”
So we thought it would be worth the hundred dollars (plus shipping) to order the manual for all the eager readers here at Big Blue Tech .
Our early attempts to get it shipped from America to Thailand were futile, so we had a third party order it from Canada and later ship it to us.
A few weeks later a large box arrived in the office looking in surprisingly good condition considering the distance traveled.
The sheer weight of the book is impressive. At almost 400 A4 glossy color pages the book rivaled every other book on our shelves taking first place in “the big book category” previously held by DAN ‘Deeper into diving’ on our bookcase..
First impressions when looking on the cover reveal that Tom Mount (the author) has a lot of friends who have been through a fair bit of education with several abbreviations at the end of their name. Our last most impressive book, the DAN Deeper Into Diving had the name “Richard E. Moon MD, FRCPC, FACP, FCCP” and that was a good read.
As we flipped through the pages we found over saturated reds and purples, with photo’s of 1980’s technical divers in pink and orange wetsuits proving a bit unsettling. If you had read any of Tom Mounts previous books like “Technical Diver Student Workbook for the Technical Diver & Normoxic Trimix Diver” you would be used to this style of presentation. Despite having read his previous work we thought twice about showing it to people as a representation of the new and emerging community of technical divers who prefer things simple, streamlined and certainly not pink.
Despite the books unique layout and color the content is amazingly rich in theory covering all theoretical aspects from physiology in great length, psychological aspects, decompression models and decompression sickness. I’ve stressed the word theoretical because beyond theory there’s nothing necessarily practical about the book, failing to expand or explain the technical function of things. At one point, the book begins to describe fins and other general equipment which climaxes with a one paragraph mention of a CCR and then moves on to Daltons Law (theory). When I gave this to someone who was thinking of getting into technical diving it simply confused them and overwhelmed them. I realize this book is designed for the more advanced technical diver but it could of been toned down a bit to appeal to a broader audience.
We continued to read through the content to see what was added further, instead of the essential ground works education and we found a lovely little section on meditation where the author demonstrates how he’s a Grand Master and uses Qi Gong to build energy. At that point we were lost…completely lost. The chapter that held this obscure section was referred to as physical fitness which would lead someone to think there would be practical (opposite of theoretical) examples of building physical strength for technical diving. There were examples like “eat right, exercise and get good sleep” but there were also the more disturbing “Chase, Age 8, Ha(s) received special energy training exercises from grand master mount in order to – force tom backwards when pressing against a knife”, so basically Tom is putting knives to the throat of 8 year old and having them push him away using only their Qi Gong’ness, maybe his next book should read “how to repel old men with sticks and knives with your throat” and put only theoretical information about scuba diving in it, image below.
Now I’m not knocking the power of the spiritual world, i beleive there’s a lot there to be discovered but I think there should be books then. The practical guide to surviving technical diving and one which is more theoretical.
The one saving grace about this book is you can always pick it up and learn something you had forgotten or simply overlooked. Additionally, the expedition chapter is a very good section with some helpful planning tips for people wanting to do their own expeditions in the future.
Looking at the back of the book is quite revealing when reading about the contributors and realizing that the authors of this book also wrote many “bibles” used in the technical diving community today. These other books may be black and white and very old but a lot of the methods used 30 years ago are still taught today.
I think the book should be labeled clearer for future people who can’t read it first or see a preview of it’s content because this book is not essential nor should be considered an encyclopedia for everyone. Additionally those who would consider this book a great source of information and a rich resource probably already know much of what’s being said inside. Those who don’t already know the things inside would probably get confused quite early on.
This leaves us to still refer to the DAN Deeper into Diving as the true encyclopedia of technical diving as a reference and resource for true survival.
Exploration and Mixed Gas Diving Encyclopedia; The Tao of Survival Underwater can be bought at http://www.iantd.com/