WASHINGTON (April 13, 2010)—Legendary underwater explorer and filmmaker Jacques-Yves Cousteau was born 100 years ago, on June 11, 1910. To mark the centenary of his birth, National Geographic Books is publishing a memoir by his eldest son, Jean-Michel, the noted French environmentalist, educator and film producer.
MY FATHER, THE CAPTAIN (National Geographic Books; ISBN: 978-1-4262-0683-2; $26 eBook and hardcover) will be available as an eBook on May 18, followed by the print version on May 25.
Written in collaboration with Daniel Paisner, the book is an open and intimate look at the life Jean-Michel shared with his renowned father. The book follows the remarkable life, work and legacy of the man who inspired millions to reconsider their relationship with the sea and its creatures. Through insightful anecdotes and often poignant memories, Jean-Michel sheds new light on the inventive, resourceful, passionate man who helped develop the “aqualung,” scuba diving apparatuses and submersibles, and whose name became synonymous with underwater exploration and photography and ocean conservation.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau introduced his sons Jean-Michel and Philippe to the wonders of the ocean at an early age, and they shared their father’s passion for the sea and life aboard his boat Calypso. “His lifelong vision was to help millions of people understand the fragility of life on what he called our ‘water planet,'” Jean-Michel writes. “His love of the sea, his spirit of adventure, his thirst for discovery. These are deep and profound gifts that he passed on to me and my brother. It was, and remains, a brilliant inheritance.”
Jean-Michel also shared his father’s wish to educate children to be future ambassadors of the sea, and he founded the Ocean Futures Society, a marine conservation and education organization, to continue his father’s legacy.
“My father introduced the world to the grand, enlightening adventures of the seas; he helped develop the ‘sport’ of diving and opened up the oceans in such a way that people could swim like fish, unencumbered and free; and his cameras recorded the spectacular sounds and sights of the deep and brought them into our living rooms. Such boundless wonder all from one man. And so I took it upon myself to share these precious gifts with as many children as I could, to open up the seas for them in the same way my father had opened them up for me.”
Jean-Michel describes his father as brilliant, difficult, complicated and charismatic, an impatient man, who could be stubborn and passionate and generous — all to a fault. “He was a man of many different personalities, many different moods. But that 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.”
The original French edition of Jean-Michel’s 2004 memoir, “Mon Père, le Commandant,” published to critical acclaim, provides the foundation for MY FATHER, THE CAPTAIN, but this new book includes much additional material and fresh insights into the life and mind of the man who helped jump-start a global conservation effort that continues to flourish. The book contains many new stories and observations that did not appear in the French edition. It offers an intimate reappraisal of the many touching moments the younger Cousteau shared with his father, as well as insights into conflicted family relationships and seminal moments from his father’s life that have become part of the Cousteau family lore and legend.
About the Authors
Jean-Michel Cousteau is the founder and president of the Ocean Futures Society, which attempts to foster a conservation ethic, conduct research and develop marine education programs. He has made more than 80 films and has won Emmy, Peabody, 7 d’Or and Cable Ace awards. He is executive producer of the acclaimed PBS television series “Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures.”
Daniel Paisner has written more than 40 books, on topics ranging from business and sports to politics and entertainment. He is co-author of Denzel Washington’s “A Hand to Guide Me,” Whoopi Goldberg’s “Book” and Krystyna Chiger’s “The Girl in the Green Sweater: A Life in Holocaust’s Shadow,” all New York Times bestsellers.