Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review: Deep Down Dark by Héctor Tobar

Title: Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle that Set Them Free
Author: Héctor Tobar
Year Published: 2014

Genre: Adult non-fiction
Pages: 334
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2015 Google Reading map)Chile

FTC Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book

Summary (from the inside flap of the book):
 When the San José mine collapsed outside of Copiapó, Chile, in August 2010, it trapped thirty-three miners beneath thousands of feet of rock for a record-breaking sixty-nine days. After the disaster, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Héctor Tobar received exclusive access to the miners and their tales, and in Deep Down Dark, he brings them to haunting, visceral life. We learn what it was like to be imprisoned inside a mountain, understand the horror of being slowly consumed by hunger, and experience the awe of working in such a place--underground passages filled with danger and that often felt alive. A masterwork of narrative journalism and a stirring testament of the power of the human spirit, Deep Dark Down captures the profound ways in which the lives of everyone involved in the catastrophe were forever changed.

Review: I have vivid memories of watching the story of the 33 Chilean miners unfold on television; I bet most adults do. About a week ago I learned that when they were all trapped they agreed that if they got out, the story belonged to all of them and that they would remain silent and sell their story together. They chose Héctor Tobar, an LA Times journalist, as their storyteller. He is coming to Santa Barbara in about a week and will do an appearance at the high school where I work so I wanted to read the book before hearing him speak. This book reveals that there was so much more to the story than what we saw on TV. So many thoughts whizzed through my head as I read this book....
  • The intricacies of the mine--they had trucks and bulldozers down there! And roads. Granted most of it was destroyed, but I had no idea. I thought they were stuck in one small room.
  • The mountain was constantly shifting, shedding rock, crashing, and rumbling around them.
  • They mostly got along, with only one physical altercation. That is impressive!
  • They lost as much as 40 pounds in the first 17 days! The heat and humidity and lack of food is staggering.
  • The group of professionals who gathered on the surface to make the rescue possible is impressive: NASA astronauts; miners, drillers, equipment, and rescuers from around the world; doctors and psychologists; government officials; and most of all the family and friends who camped out every day while they waited.
  • The absurdity of the celebrity status while they were still trapped. I mean really, do pop stars really need to visit the site and talk to the miners while they are trapped?!
  • The way life was for the men after they were rescued is kind of depressing, but I guess not totally surprising
This book was really interesting and I recommend it if you are in the mood for a non-fiction story well-told.

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