When The San Jos Mine Collapsed Outside Of Copiap, Chile, In August , It Trapped Thirty Three Miners Beneath Thousands Of Feet Of Rock For A Record Breaking Sixty Nine Days Across The Globe, We Sat Riveted To Television And Computer Screens As Journalists Flocked To The Atacama Desert While We Saw What Transpired Above Ground During The Grueling And Protracted Rescue, The Story Of The Miners Experiences Below The Earths Surface And The Lives That Led Them There Hasn T Been Heard Until Now In This Master Work Of A Pulitzer Prizewinning Journalist, Hctor Tobar Gains Exclusive Access To The Miners And Their Stories The Result Is A Miraculous And Emotionally Textured Account Of The Thirty Three Men Who Came To Think Of The San Jos Mine As A Kind Of Coffin, As A Cave Inflicting Constant And Thundering Aural Torment, And As A Church Where They Sought Redemption Through Prayer While The World Watched From Above It Offers An Understanding Of The Families And Personal Histories That Brought Los To The Mine, And The Mystical And Spiritual Elements That Surrounded Working In Such A Dangerous Place 3.
5 stars I was going to start by saying that prior to reading this book, I was ignorant of the events described in it because at the time that they were unfolding, I was living under a rock I then realized that I would be making the most horrible pun ever, so I ll just begin by saying that in August of 2010, I wasn t keeping up with the news Here s the wikipedia article for anyone else who needs to be reminded about the background info This book s jam packed title gives you some idea of how its contents are written detailed, dense, at times heavy handed, but overall pretty straightforward The story is told in the present tense, an interesting style for historical nonfiction, and I think it generally works well It helps to establish a sense of time ticking towards a menacing future fate, from the very first page of the book The story begins before the miners arrive at work on the day of the accident, chronicles their weeks trapped underground, and concludes in the months following their rescue They face a different set of challenges at each stage of the story, and it s especially interesting to see how making contact with the surface upends their situation, solving some problems while inciting others It s tricky to tell the story of 33 protagonists, and I think this book fares as well as can be expected It s a bit confusing at times and some miners fade into the background, but the individual personalities of many of the others come through, revealing some interesting and stormy group dynamics I ve always been fond of Mr Rogers s quote, that there isn t anyone you couldn t love once you ve heard their story This book got me thinking that the converse may also have some truth to it there isn t anyone you wouldn t be put off by at least a little bit once you ve heard their story As cynical as that sounds, one of the book s major points is that these men are not necessarily the most lovable or upstanding people you ve ever met, but that it has nothing to do with whether they re worthy of being saved Many of them had messy lives before the accident, which remained at least equally messy afterwards I appreciate the book s realism in that respect, because it s an antidote to the sugary caricatures that tend to spring up around incidents like these What I appreciate less is how Tobar couches certain behaviors in what seems to be a boys will be boys apologism It s an impression reinforced by some rather funny comments about gender a miner s wife reaches deep into her feminine soul , and memories of normal life are symbolized by the mystery of the feminine there in the bellies growing with their progeny Last time I checked, gestation is not generally regarded as a mystery I m not sure if Tobar is trying to immerse the reader in the male dominated Chilean mining culture, and or if he s indulging in romanticization In any case, the book made me laugh at several points where I don t think I was supposed to Especially when it comes to the mountain birthing the miners back to the surface Ick One of the most interesting parts of the book is the discussion of how the miners lived after their rescue, struggling with PTSD as they found themselves in a worldwide spotlight Alcoholism, depression, and money problems ensue It exemplifies the media s rash and boundless power to lift people up, throw them down, and leave them far behind as it rushes on to the next hero scandal sensation The book is a bit meta as well, because after all, books are a component of the media A central part of the story involves the miners decisions about how to tell their story to the world they decide to share it with Tobar, which enabled him to write this book Which leaves me wondering, does Deep Down Dark contribute to or counteract the repercussions of fame that warped many of the miners lives after their reemergence I don t think it s an easily answerable question, but the book does provide a fascinating cautionary tale for anyone who consumes, creates, or becomes a subject of the media.
I m feeling torn about my response to this book The rescue of the 33 Chilean miners made for a gripping story that caught the world s attention as it unfolded I remember watching the news 17 days after the cave in A drill with a camera attached finally broke through to the area where the miners were believed to be trapped We were braced to witness a tragedy video of 33 dying or crushed men When the camera finally returned to surface that expectation was turned into riotous, joyous celebration after a note was found attached with the words All 33 are fine in the refuge.
The world continued to watch as the Chilean government mobilized specialists even NASA from all over the world to develop a plan to get the men out 69 days later the first man was lifted out of a hole the size of car tire All 33 made it safely to the surface, back to their families and instant worldwide celebrity It was hailed as both a miracle and a triumph of the human spirit.
The book tears down the triumphant mythos that surrounds The 33 The author s description of the lack of safety compliance at the mine and the subsequent cave in are horrific I raged when the miners discovered just after the accident that the ladders that were supposed to help them climb out through escape tunnels built just for this purpose were never installed Or when the emergency food supply that was supposed to feed a large amount of men for a period long enough to get them rescued consisted only of a few packs of cookies and some cans of spoiled milk and tuna This is where things get wonky From here on out Tobar begins to focus on the personality defects of each miner, the mistakes they ve made and the petty bickering they devolve into after being trapped together for so long He diminishes the monumental effort by the rescuers who worked around the clock, many refusing to leave their posts as grandstanding by a self centered politician who simply wanted to boost his political capital By the end of the book everyone is unlikable and without merit I put it down feeling sad and disappointed.
I would skip this book and simply go on to YouTube and do a google search for the 33 miners Your heart will thank you for it I don t read a lot of nonfiction, mostly because I worry that the stories will be dry accounts of whatever subjects they concentrate on But this book was far from a dry account as it detailed the collapse of the San Jose Mine in Chile in 2010, and the subsequent rescue of the thirty three men trapped inside it for sixty nine days, two thousand feet below the surface They lacked a source of fresh water and their original provisions consisted of only enough food for twenty two men for a grand total of two days Temperatures in the mine in certain places reached as high as 122 degrees with up to 98% humidity How they survived physically, mentally, and emotionally, the author relates every step of the way in a clear and simple manner that allowed the reader to experience what the men did, as much as anyone could by simply reading about it The author, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, achieved this by using all his senses to engage the reader s so that he could see, smell, taste, feel, and hear all that the men did You wouldn t think much could happen in the limited space the men were confined in, but much did happen there, just as it did within each man and between them, to say nothing of what happened involving those above ground, fighting for their rescue, and those aiding it Going into this book, I wondered if I d have problems keeping track of thirty three plus names and the people attached to them But the author handled it deftly by sketching in everyone s background, then gradually adding details as the story progressed, allowing a full picture of each person to emerge, a picture in constant flux as circumstances changed But what really made this story into such a rich one was the author steeping it in culture, and including the psychological and sociological aspects of the men s ordeal, as well as how politics and the media came into play during the rescue And while I knew how the book would end, the author made this novel suspenseful throughout, in a setting as eerie as any found in a science fiction novel And even as the rescue was complete, the novel took it one step beyond to include the aftermath in which some of the men who had been freed found themselves trapped yet again I recommend this book for book clubs and for anyone looking for a book of nonfiction as engaging as any found in the fiction section At it s heart, it s a celebration of life and hope.
I give this book 4.
5 stars I was completely intrigued from the beginning I loved that the author was able to humanize the miners with an honest portrayal of emotions that included fear, humility, courage, anger, depression, defeat, happiness, with their personal stories of struggle and faith In addition, the author also let you into their families own helplessness 2000 feet aboveground We also get to experience the miner s lives after their rescue outside of what we saw in the media The 33 men were awarded instant celebrity status but Hector also documents the struggles and dwindling personal relationships that the miners experienced once all the recognition faded away the depression, the alcoholism, the insomnia, and other psychological affects which is a common consequence of post traumatic stresses was heartbreaking Thank you Hector for writing such a genuine account of their story.
4 stars It was great I loved it.
A personable and evocative story told by a journalist that is capable of writing a narrative nonfiction book Now, on to the movie Favorite Quote It seems silly to Franklin for his fellow miners to think of themselves as national heroes when all they ve done is gotten themselves trapped in a place where only the desperate and the hard up for cash go to suffer and toil They are famous now, yes, but that heady sense of fullness that fame gives you, that sense of being at the center of everything, will disappear quicker than they could possibly imagine Franklin tries to speak this truth to his fellow miners, but he does so halfheartedly, because he knows the only way to learn it is to live it.
First Sentence The San Jos Mine is located inside a round, rocky, and lifeless mountain in the Atacama Desert in Chile.
Strangely, this was a bit plodding There were many details that were not that interesting I also had a very, v difficult time visualizing the mine and the area that the miners were trapped in I would have liked diagrams and pictures It was cumbersome to flip to the beginning of the book to look at the pictures of the miners especially b c they were not in alphabetical order BUT, the actual story is quite amazing The men all handle being stuck in the mine differently that part of the telling is where the reporting shines.
The San Jos Mine on the fringe of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile spirals down nearly as deep as the tallest building on Earth is tall, and the drive along the Ramp from the surface to the deepest part of the mine is about five miles.
The Atacama Desert is one of the oldest and driest deserts in the world There was once a river, the Copiap , which ran through a city of the same name on the edge of the Atacama, but mining and population pressures have long since bled the river dry Copiap is where the men working in shifts of seven days on and seven days off sleep during their work week at the San Jos Mine These facts alone would make a story about Copiap fascinating, but since August 2010 we remember the province for a mining disaster that transfixed the world.
It is difficult to imagine the ordeal thirty three men trapped deep in a Chilean mine with less than two days stored food and a few bottles of clean water must have experienced in their than two months underground awaiting rescue, though it is less difficult to imagine the despair and anxiety filling these men as they contemplated their situation By any common reckoning, the men should have died At a different time or place, they might have, but by the extraordinary perseverance of the families of the miners and the efforts of an international team of mine rescuers, the men were resurrected to face life above ground once again This is the story of their experience how a disparate group of men working overtime to pay their bills and as a newly formed team are trapped together in a collapsing mine by a sheared mega block of the igneous rock diorite, precursor to granite, one third the height and twice as heavy as the Empire State Building.
The story has a propulsion all its own Our understanding of the ordinary stressors of a working day is amplified by the dark, hot, and humid conditions of the imprisonment These men all know how mine collapses of this magnitude have been treated in the past, and must look past their expectations for weeks to hold out hope for a rescue We saw the event unfold from the outside Now, for the first time, we hear the inside story By some remarkable act of will and foresight, the men agree to share their story as a team No member of the thirty three will gain fortune by exploiting the story they all shared How H ctor Tobar, U.
S citizen, correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, and son of Guatemalan immigrants to the U.
, is chosen to tell the story is fascinating in itself and is shared in the New York Times Book Review Podcast The explosive noises, changes in air pressure, falling rock, dust and debris surrounding the men during the most severe thirty minutes of the collapse is terrifying enough The moment the men realize their path to the surface is blocked and the moment the rescuers discover the same news from their side of the megabloque is responded to with the exact same wordsEstamos cagadosloose translation We re fucked What happens after the men realize their predicament how they react to one another, to their imaginations, to their hunger, pain, sorrow is what makes this story such a remarkable document The process of the rescue is interleaved with the telling of the internal lives of the trapped men It is hard to put this book down, so convinced are we that we will learn something valuable about the strength and resilience of men under pressure.
The proceeds from the sale of the book and a movie, if it comes to that will go to the miners themselves, which is incentive enough to buy the book, though we learn through our reading that money created problems than it solved for these humble and stoic men We wish them well, and god willing, a life worthy of their enormous challenge.