My Father, the Captain: My Life With Jacques Cousteau

My Father, the Captain: My Life With Jacques Cousteau

by Jean-Michel Cousteau, Daniel Paisner


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426206832
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Publication date: 05/25/2010
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 718,738
Product dimensions: 6.54(w) x 9.36(h) x 0.97(d)

About the Author

Jean-Michel Cousteau is the president of the high-profile Ocean Futures Society. He has made more than 80 films and has won an Emmy, a Peabody, a 7 d'Or, and a Cable Ace Award. Cousteau is the executive producer of the acclaimed PBS TV series Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures, and the author of My Father, the Captain: My Life with Jacques Cousteau.

Daniel Paisner is the New York Times bestselling author/coauthor of more than 60 books, including Denzel Washington's A Hand to Guide Me, Missy Franklin’s Relentless Spirit: The Unconventional Raising of a Champion, and Daymond John’s The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage. To learn more, visit or follow @DanielPaisner on Twitter.

Read an Excerpt

My Father, the Captain

My Life With Jacques Cousteau
By Jean-Michel Cousteau

National Geographic

Copyright © 2010 Jean-Michel Cousteau
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781426206832

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.”


Excerpted from My Father, the Captain by Jean-Michel Cousteau Copyright © 2010 by Jean-Michel Cousteau. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Two Salutes 9

1 Beginnings 17

2 My Arrival 33

3 Liquid Air 55

4 A Family at Sea 75

5 Sanary 91

6 Waiting for Calypso 105

7 A Place of My Own 129

8 From Madagascar to Hollywood 159

9 Treasure 177

10 Philippe 189

11 Future Generations 211

12 The End of Something 229

Epilogue: Legacy 243

Time line 251

Acknowledgments 255

Customer Reviews

My Father, the Captain: My Life With Jacques Cousteau 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
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Greensboro More than 1 year ago
Jean-Michel Cousteau's "My Father, the Captain," is a touching tribute to Jacques Yves Cousteau and other men and women who pioneered underwater exploration with JYC beginning in the 1940s. It's an easy and quick read in Jean-Michel's voice, which makes it ever-so-intimate. It's a story about a family drawn together by a passion for the sea and driven by his father's thirst for adventure. Jean-Michel writes lovingly of his mother, Simone Melchior, who he says was the equal of any sailor on JYC's crew. In many ways it's a love letter to his father and mother and also to his brother, Philippe. It's well-worth exploring again the lives of the family that reminded us of the importance of caring for the oceans.