Offshore: A North Sea Journey - A. [Alfred] AlvarezLondon: Hodder & Stoughton, 1986, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Good+ Dust Wrapper. A little rubbing to the edges of the dust wrapper, more heavily at the spine ends and corners, with a light pull to the head of the upper panel and a heavier pull, with closed tear, to the head of the lower panel. Text complete, clean and tight.
Illustrated by way of: Black & White Drawings; Maps to the endpapers and blanks;
From the cover: “Offshore is an account of a journey to a place most of us take for granted and few have seen, a place where science-fiction high technology is put to work in some of the most brutal conditions on earth.
Since 1969, when oil was first struck in the British sector of the North Sea, Britain has become one of the world’s major oil producers. But how this treasure is extracted from far beneath the seabed and what life is like up on the stormy 61st parallel is still a mystery to outsiders. A. Alvarez went offshore to find out.
His book gives a brilliant account of the discovery and development of North Sea oil and of the people who made it happen. Alvarez talked to divers, toolpushers, helicopter pilots, oil engineers, crane drivers, scaffolders and roustabouts, as well as to the geologists, administrators and businessmen back ‘on the beach’. He went to the Shetlands, where North Sea oil comes ashore, and talked to the man who took on the oil companies and saw to it that this vast new revenue would benefit the whole community. He describes in compelling detail the bizarre world of the divers who work four-week shifts on the seabed. He recreates his own disorientating experience of moving -in the space of one hour — from the top of a derrick four hundred feet above the sea to the centre of a concrete platform leg more than two hundred feet below the surface.
The world of North Sea oil is ideally suited to Alvarez’s many interests. As a poet, novelist and mountaineer he has been widely praised for his vivid evocations of place and mood. He has written on such varied human compulsions as suicide(The Savage God), divorce (Life After Marriage) and gambling(The Biggest Game in Town). At the age of 56 he climbed the Old Man of Hoy in bad weather This restless fascination with hostile environments and the waywardness of human behaviour in extreme circumstances drew him irresistibly to the strange industrial province in the treacherous waters of the North Sea.
It seemed not just another technical accomplishment, but a kind of mystery, he writes,and the installations rising improbably out of the water — their size and complexity and apparent clumsiness — only increased the strangeness… The oilfields provide Britain with something it lost when it gave up its colonies — a frontier.
Offshore is a unique portrait of the brave new world and brilliant technological achievement that have enabled Britain to remain solvent despite its economic miseries. It is an enthralling picture of one of the great untamed areas of the globe and of the men who work there.”