Picks and Pans Review: The Cousteau Almanac
by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and the staff of the Cousteau Society
For more than 30 years Jacques Cousteau has been entertaining millions with his accounts of underwater life. Recently, he has also been sounding an alarm about the fragility of marine ecology. Now, at 71, Captain Cousteau steps ashore to evaluate man's effect on the nonwatery quarter of the globe. As the subtitle, "An Inventory of Life on Our Water Planet," suggests, this is a prodigious attempt to catalog the world's diverse life forms and their interconnections, while assessing the impact of man's polluting encroachments. The book is 786 pages long (plus a 51-page index), with thousands of entries ranging from plant and animal life ("There are more insects in one square mile of rural land than human beings on the entire earth") to a section entitled "What happens to the U.S. President in a Nuclear Attack." Maps, pictures and drawings are interspersed with the lucid text. While it's a first-class reference work, it's also something to read and ponder—and worry about. (Doubleday/Dolphin, $15.95)
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