The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus

Exploring and Conserving Our Natural World
Narrated by: Stephen Hoye
Length: 12 hrs and 58 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (57 ratings)

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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.

©2007 Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Susan Schiefelbein (P)2008 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"[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)

What listeners say about The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

A Politcal Opinion

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

No.

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.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

fabulous book amazing man

had we heeded Cousteau 30 years ago we wouldnt be in the predicament we are in now. This book chronicals his expoilts and gives us a clear view of the truth of our actions on our environment. I always wondered why the death of this amazing man was hardly covered on the news. Now i know, he spoke the truth and it was inconvenient.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I cried. I cried alot.

it was a pleasure listening to the story and adventures of the father of marine biology. how he tried to make the world better by satisfying his own curiosities. the struggles he faced with our society through war and greed. if only people would have cared more and listened to his warnings and pleas to protect our planet. I loved the chapter about how he saw our world 1000s of years from now when we have already learned the hard way. the peace he still hopes for. the possibility of living with nature and not against it.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Not what I was expecting !!

In short if you want stories of life aboard Calapyso this is NOT the book for you! If you want a reflection of policital science during the life of our favorite explorer well then step right up !

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Snooze fest !

I like animals, I like animal stories, I like Jacques Cousteau, but I DON'T like this book. The narration stinks and the pseudo-French accent the narrator employs often, is annoying. The book is boring and is a hero-worship of Jacques Cousteau and not much about animals. This is one of the few times I only made it half way though a book. I gave up and decided not to throw any more good time after bad money.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Too much ranting

I enjoyed the book somewhat. But there was too much ranting against just about everything. For example it felt like a third of the book was against nuclear power and nuclear proliferation. He makes some good points, but too many over and over again.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Prepared yourself for a diatribe

Wow, this is not what I was expecting. Cousteau rails on scientists, religion, world leaders, common citizens, and more. There's also a lengthy section on the perils of nuclear energy that was provided some news to me but it was just too much.

As the inventor of SCUBA technology and, obviously, a lifetime diver, he saw the oceans deteriorate and whither in a matter of decades so I understand his passionate cry for the planet. I just found some of the science to be a bit lacking in places and too few moments of hope.

I also found the narrator's voice lacked variation but that may have been a function of the text. I made it through this one but just barely (I stepped it up to double speed to get through--THANK YOU iPOD for that ingenius feature).