Reviews

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Here is an enlightening look at one municipal infrastructure project and its cost in human lives. In the 1990s, Boston built a game-changing sewage treatment plant with an outfall via an undersea tunnel ten miles long. At the tunnel's far end there would be more than 50 tall pipes with dispersal nozzles to release the treated water into the Atlantic. Once the tunnel itself was completed, the last job was to open the outfall pipes; this needed to be accomplished after all the equipment and air handlers in the tunnel were removed. With no oxygen in the tunnel, five professional divers were given an elaborate breathing system and sent down into the darkness. Something went wrong; two men died, and the three who survived struggled for years with guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder. Swidey (staff writer, Boston Globe; The Assist: Hoops, Hope, and the Game of Their Lives) provides immense detail about the challenges, solutions, politics, management, legalities, and personnel involved in a huge, expensive, necessary project that transformed Boston Harbor from an open sewer into a recreational area. VERDICT The author provides masses of facts yet never loses sight of the people involved. The result is a valuable resource for all engineering, urban planning, and journalism collections.-Edwin Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Since the opening of Boston's immense Deer Island Sewage Treatment Plant in September 2000, the "giant, stinking cesspool" of Boston Harbor has cleared significantly in what has been widely hailed as an environmental engineering triumph. This gripping history focuses on construction of its business end: the world's longest dead-end tunnel, which travels 9.5 miles though bedrock, ending in 55 vertical pipes that diffuse effluent far out to sea. In hindsight, disaster was inevitable, since the project's contract stated that these pipes' 55 safety plugs could be extracted only when the tunnel was complete-meaning all drainage, ventilation, transportation, and electrical systems were removed. Commercial divers tackled the job. Years of research and interviews by Boston journalist Swidey (The Assist: Hoops, Hope, and the Game of their Lives) has produced a fascinating account of these skilled blue-collar men and their mission, aborted when a malfunctioning oxygen supply killed two of them. While others later completed the job, Swidey describes the years of bitterness and litigation that followed. This virtuoso performance combines insights into massive engineering projects, corporate litigation, environmental science, and cutthroat free-market behavior with vivid personal stories. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, Wylie Agency. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* In the summer of 1999, after an extraordinary project to clean up filthy Boston Harbor was stalled, five commercial divers were brought in for a dangerous, high-stakes mission hundreds of feet beneath the ocean floor. To unstick the Deer Island sewer treatment plant project, the men entered a 10-mile-long tunnel, a dark and claustrophobic space in which oxygen was fed to each man through an umbilical hose. When the mission went wrong, the men found themselves fighting for their lives in a race to get out of the tunnel. Swidey spent five years poring over documents and interviewing all the major figures, including the surviving divers, who speak for the first time about the tragedy and its lasting impact on their lives. More than just an exploration of the elements of a mission gone wrong (the politics, engineering, and design), this is a look at the dangerous jobs done by countless workers executing the grand plans of politicians and engineers that are taken for granted. With the pacing and feel of a special-ops adventure and the insight of a public-policy investigation, Swidey details the lives of the divers, leading up to their fateful mission, the horrors of the ordeal, and its aftermath as the survivors coped with trauma and guilt.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2010 Booklist