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My Father, the Captain

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My Life With Jacques Cousteau

Written by Jean-Michel CousteauAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Jean-Michel Cousteau and Daniel PaisnerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Daniel Paisner


List Price: $26.00


On Sale: May 18, 2010
Pages: 272 | ISBN: 978-1-4262-0686-3
Published by : National Geographic National Geographic Society
My Father, the Captain Cover

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In every legend, there is a legacy. In the life and career of undersea
explorer Jacques Cousteau, that legacy beats in the heart of the sea and in
the heart of his son, Jean-Michel, the noted French environmentalist,
educator and documentary film producer who has spent most of his adult life
nurturing the work of his famous father.

In My Father, The Captain, Jean-Michel Cousteau takes an open and intimate look at the life he shared with his father, and the legend he has taken it
upon himself to carry. In so doing, he hopes to shed new and meaningful
light on the life and work of a man who inspired millions to reconsider our
relationship with the sea and its creatures-and, in the process, to
understand a little more about himself and his family as well.

"Captain Cousteau was a complicated man," the younger Cousteau writes. "He
was a man of many different personalities, many different moods. But this
is how it is with all great men, yes? We know the public mask, but it is
the private face that reveals a man's true character. It is the man we
know when the cameras are not filming."

My Father, The Captain is shot-through with new material and fresh insights
into the life and mind of a man who helped to jump-start a global
conservation effort that continues to flourish. Jean-Michel Cousteau and
his collaborator, New York Times best-selling author Daniel Paisner, offer
an intimate reappraisal of the many touchstone moments Jean-Michel shared
with his father, as well as the seminal moments from his father's life that
have become part of the Cousteau family lore and legend.


My Father, The Captain
Book Excerpt
In the spring of 1950, Jacques-Yves Cousteau had a vision. Or, at least, he liked to recall that he had a vision, but it’s possible that what became a vision in the retelling was in reality a chance encounter. Either way, he’d found his ship. In the first version of the story, the magical version that suggests that the Calypso appeared before him like something out of a storybook, Dad was out for a stroll in the harbor village of La Valette-du-Var, on the island of Malta. La Valette is a charming village that even today feels old and new all at once, rich with history and at the same time utterly contemporary and altogether vibrant, although in 1950, the large naval ships in the port were a bleak reminder that the island was still under British rule. In this very harbor, my father took to saying that the Calypso appeared before him for the first time. He fell immediately under her spell. He described the ship to his collaborator Yves Paccalet in the following terms: “With her half-white, half-black wooden planking, anchored among the fishing boats and battleships, she enchanted me immediately. I want her. I shall have her. I read her name on the hull: Calypso C. At that moment, I realized that I will command her and that I will sail her to the end of the world. . . .”
It is a romantic vision, yes? And yet there is another account that seems far more reliable. I heard my father tell this complementary version many times as well and came to suspect that the truth rested in the balance of these two stories. In the second version, my father was visiting Auron, a ski resort in the south of France, and he was at dinner with friends, talking about his dream of exploring the world’s oceans. He expressed his frustration with L’Elie Monnier and told of the difficulties he was having requisitioning a more suitable vessel from the French Navy. JYC was a wonderful dreamer, a wonderful storyteller, a wonderful dinner companion—and from the accounts of those present, he was his usual effervescent self on this night. When my father stood to leave, he was approached by a gentleman who had been seated at the next table. The man appeared to have been caught in the swirl of my father’s enthusiasm. He said, “Forgive me, but I overheard your conversation. I might be in a position to offer you a vessel to help you achieve your dream.”


“It's an intimate look at the man who first brought marine life into the living rooms of millions of Americans in the 1960s, and who fought tirelessly to open the eyes of the world to the oceans' dwindling natural resources.” –Express
“Jean-Michel [Cousteau] has just published a new book, "My Father, the Captain," about both the public life and private side of his famous father.” –PBS NewsHour

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