The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus

  • by Jacques Cousteau, Susan Schielfelbein
  • Narrated by Stephen Hoye
  • 12 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Part adventure story, part manifesto, this is legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau's passionate plea for sustaining life on earth.Explorer, diving pioneer, filmmaker, inventor, and activist, Jacques Cousteau was blessed from his childhood with boundless curiosity about the natural world. As the leader of fascinating, often dangerous expeditions all over the planet, he discovered firsthand the complexity and beauty of life on earth and undersea - and watched the toll taken by human activity in the 20th century.
In this magnificent last book, available for the first time in the United States, Cousteau describes his deeply informed philosophy about protecting our world for future generations. Weaving gripping stories of his adventures throughout, he and coauthor Susan Schiefelbein address the risks we take with human health, the overfishing and sacking of the world's oceans, the hazards of nuclear proliferation, and the environmental responsibility of scientists, politicians, and people of faith.
Written over the last 10 years of his life with frequent collaborator Schiefelbein, who also introduces the text and provides an update on environmental developments in the decade since Cousteau's death, this prescient, clear-sighted book is a remarkable testament to the life and work of one of our greatest modern adventurers.


What the Critics Say

"[An] electrifying, many-faceted masterwork." (Booklist)
"Cousteau's reverence for life's miracles....shines through in this eloquent testimony on the importance of pursuing higher ideals, particularly the preservation of the oceans and the natural world for future generations." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A Politcal Opinion

Would you try another book from Jacques Cousteau and Susan Schielfelbein and/or Stephen Hoye?


What could Jacques Cousteau and Susan Schielfelbein have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

The book merged two very different types of books together that should not have been done. Some sections of the book were filled with interesting stories about life under the sea and the voyages of Cousteau. Other sections, the majority, were making a strong political statement about fishing, the international community of nations, and nuclear power. The political statement was supported with numerous facts and made a very strong argument. Unfortunately, if the reader is not prepared for this, it takes the reader by surprise and brings them from the highs of adventure to the lows of helplessness and resignation of defeat. Many socialist principles are espoused that are really so far from reality that is presents a pure fantasy that deserves 2 minutes rather than hours. This book should have been advertised a Cousteau's political point of view and perhaps how he tried to use it to preserve the oceans.

What aspect of Stephen Hoye’s performance would you have changed?

Perhaps too forceful and demanding. Perhaps it may have been better received if it was not so much in the style of preaching and arogant. I don't think it matched at all the speaking style of the author.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Extreme sadness. No hope for the future. No path to follow.

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- Thomas M. Olenski

A wonderful and illuminating book

We've all been very lucky that a man with a great spirit, passion and honesty has lived and told us his story and views in such a pleasant and intelligent way. It is very different from the imbecilic coverage of just about anything in the media so it requires a serious and sincere mindset to appreciate. The philosophical insights and indeed underpinnings of Cousteau's work are amply explained in the book - thank God for the lack of sound-bites and political correctness. A fascinating, moving and enjoyable story for a discriminating and sophisticated listener, and a life changing for some, I'm sure. A gem. If only Oprah operated on a higher intellectual plane, it would be so great if she recommended this book to her book club. It's a breath of fresh air and a wake up call. The narration is decent and its faults are minor - I think they do not really detract from the book for a serious minded listener. The tone and the intention of the book, and, of course, the man, are very inspiring to me.
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- Mark G

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-18-2008
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio