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Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free

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When the San Jos mine collapsed outside of Copiap, Chile, in August 2010, 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 When the San Jos mine collapsed outside of Copiap, Chile, in August 2010, 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 José 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 33 to the mine, and the mystical and spiritual elements that surrounded working in such a dangerous place.


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When the San Jos mine collapsed outside of Copiap, Chile, in August 2010, 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 When the San Jos mine collapsed outside of Copiap, Chile, in August 2010, 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 José 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 33 to the mine, and the mystical and spiritual elements that surrounded working in such a dangerous place.

30 review for Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free

  1. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Wow. This is the incredible story of the 33 miners who were trapped in a Chilean mine for more than two months. Journalist Héctor Tobar had exclusive access to the miners, and his interviews and reporting make for an impressive read. The San Jose mine, which was more than 120 years old, suffered a massive cave-in on August 5, 2010. Luckily, the 33 miners who were underground at the time were able to get to a refuge, where there was some food and water. The mine lacked numerous safety features, an Wow. This is the incredible story of the 33 miners who were trapped in a Chilean mine for more than two months. Journalist Héctor Tobar had exclusive access to the miners, and his interviews and reporting make for an impressive read. The San Jose mine, which was more than 120 years old, suffered a massive cave-in on August 5, 2010. Luckily, the 33 miners who were underground at the time were able to get to a refuge, where there was some food and water. The mine lacked numerous safety features, and it's amazing the men survived without serious injury. Above ground, a massive rescue effort was under way, involving help and donations from multiple countries. It took weeks to drill down to where the men were, and then to make the hole wide enough so they could be rescued. There are so many good stories in this book! I was fascinated by how the miners organized themselves and tried to work together to survive, despite the usual problems that come with a group of humans living together in tight quarters. And the families of the miners were amazing in how they rallied politicians to help the trapped men. There are also good details about how the men coped afterwards — they were famous and had invitations to travel the world, but many suffered from the trauma of the ordeal. This book is so well-written and evocative that I felt as if I were trapped underground with the miners. Recommended to those who like good narrative nonfiction and survival stories. Note: By coincidence, I read Deep Down Dark immediately after finishing Hillenbrand's Unbroken, and I think I need a break from books about people being trapped and stranded and starved. Both are amazing survival stories, but I'm risking PTSD if I read any more in this genre. Favorite Quotes "The thirty-three men are certainly not proud of the conflicts that have divided them in this, their fourth week of captivity. But it's hard to believe any other group of thirty-three people would have done much better under the circumstances. Imagine being sealed up in a hot and humid cave, subjected to about three weeks of deprivation and hunger, followed by a global media circus that you must endure while remaining confined in a mountain whose innards rumble routinely, suggesting that the whole story might just end with you dead and buried anyway. Imagine being famous and wealthier than you've ever been — but also dependent on strangers who decide what and when you eat and how long you can talk to your family. And imagine the pressure that comes with having an entire nation look upon you as a symbol of courage and all that's good and resilient about mining, a craft that's at the heart of your country's identity." [The miners had been arguing about selling their story once they are rescued] "Let's be clear. You don't have anything down here that's just yours. Nothing. Are you going to tell me that if we threw you down here for weeks and left you all alone, completely alone, and then we came to rescue you, we'd find you as fine and dandy as you are now? Did you pull that off all by yourself? No, compadre. You made it this far because behind you there were thirty-two others."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    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 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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    ”The San José 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 Copiapó, 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. Copia ”The San José 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 Copiapó, 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. Copiapó is where the men working in shifts of seven days on and seven days off sleep during their work week at the San José Mine. These facts alone would make a story about Copiapó 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 more 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 Héctor Tobar, U.S. citizen, correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, and son of Guatemalan immigrants to the U.S., 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 words: “Estamos cagados” [loose 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 more problems than it solved for these humble and stoic men. We wish them well, and god willing, a life worthy of their enormous challenge.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    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 h 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.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Snotchocheez

    Don't know about you, but when they announced in in September, 2010 that drillers had found all 33 Chilean miners alive that were trapped 700 meters down in a mine in the Atacama Desert, I, like millions around the globe, was glued to CNN for word on the rescue progress. While my profile boasts "spelunking" as one of my interests, this is not exactly accurate. I do love caves (and have been to at least a dozen of the US State and National Parks that feature them) but mines (particularly the aban Don't know about you, but when they announced in in September, 2010 that drillers had found all 33 Chilean miners alive that were trapped 700 meters down in a mine in the Atacama Desert, I, like millions around the globe, was glued to CNN for word on the rescue progress. While my profile boasts "spelunking" as one of my interests, this is not exactly accurate. I do love caves (and have been to at least a dozen of the US State and National Parks that feature them) but mines (particularly the abandoned ones in the Mojave Desert my much more intrepid friends dragged me to when I was much younger) scare me to death. Way too claustrophobic for me. To make your daily living deep underground, in hellish conditions, with an ever-constant threat of structural collapse, is simply unfathomable to me. Hector Tobar does a pretty good job of providing an account of the 33 miners plights, both before their rescue and after. Like the unwieldy (sub)title might presage, though, Deep Down Dark is at times way too wordy, way too detailed in some aspects (like Chilean history), yet skimpy on others (like some of the miners stories). To be fair, he had 33 miners' accounts (plus their families', plus the mine owners', plus the rescuers' accounts to sort out. Also, I would've preferred some other pictures besides the "33 men" poster (with the tiny miners' photos looking suspiciously like mugshots) cribbed from a Chilean newspaper and already widely distributed and reprinted hundreds of times over. Moreover, here was something a little, um, peculiar (?) in reading a nonfiction book in which the interviewees, whose stories comprise much of its' content, were paid to exclusively divulge them. Still, a totally fine account of what was indeed a miracle. Hope the upcoming film "The 33" is just as good.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    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 to 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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Raven

    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 celebra 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

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jana Salamanca

    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 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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cheeky Cher

    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 o 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 José Mine is located inside a round, rocky, and lifeless mountain in the Atacama Desert in Chile.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jenifer Jacobs

    For the NPR Bookclub with Ann Patchett!! I'd better hurry - it's 13 hours long and the on air book club is on the 20th!!!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Book Concierge

    Book on CD performed by Henry Leyva From the book jacket: When the San Jose Mine collapsed outside of Copiapo, Chile, in August 2010, it trapped thirty-three miners beneath thousands of feet of rock for sixty-nine days. The entire world watched what transpired above-ground during the grueling and protracted rescue, but the sage of the miners’ experiences below the Earth’s surface – and the lives that led them there – has never been heard, until now. My Reactions What a gripping tale of survival, f Book on CD performed by Henry Leyva From the book jacket: When the San Jose Mine collapsed outside of Copiapo, Chile, in August 2010, it trapped thirty-three miners beneath thousands of feet of rock for sixty-nine days. The entire world watched what transpired above-ground during the grueling and protracted rescue, but the sage of the miners’ experiences below the Earth’s surface – and the lives that led them there – has never been heard, until now. My Reactions What a gripping tale of survival, faith, team work and perseverance! I remember watching the events unfold on television, though I was not glued to the TV as many were. I really had no interest in reading this book, but picked it up because my F2F book club chose it for discussion. I’m really glad I read it. Shortly after the mine collapsed, the thirty-three men decided that their story was owned by all of them collectively, and that none would sell his story apart from the group as a whole. Victor Segovia, “a hard-drinking jumbo operator,” kept a diary while entombed, and this became a significant source for the book. Tobar was chosen to write their story and he was given complete access to the miners, their families, and several of the officials who were part of the rescue efforts. While the story is ALL of theirs, the book does focus somewhat on a handful of the leaders who emerged – including Maria Segovia, the sister of miner Dario, who became the “mayor” of the tent city just outside the mine property – Camp Esperanza (Camp Hope) – where the families waited for their men to be rescued. In addition to the harrowing tale of their experiences underground, waiting for a rescue that might or might not happen, the book also relates the difficulties many of the miners had coping with their instant fame, and the aftereffects of the trauma they suffered. Henry Leyva does an excellent job performing the audio book. His pacing is good, and his Spanish pronunciation is excellent. I was a little taken aback at the heavily accented English he used for the dialogue, but then I suppose other listeners would have been equally annoyed if he had NOT used the accent. It certainly made it easy to tell when there was dialogue rather than exposition. NOTE: A movie was made of their story; titled The 33 , it stars Antonio Banderas. A paperback movie-tie-in edition of the book also carries this title, and has additional content not present in the original hardcover.

  12. 4 out of 5

    S.

    “All the evenness of life, the ‘light’ part of it, really stunned me,” Edison says. “It shocked me to see people walking around, living normally. It shocked me because I would say ‘Hey, where I come from isn’t like that. I come from a place where we were fighting desperately to live.’ I came out and found this shit called peace. It threw me off. That’s my favorite passage of the book. Of course, Edison Pena is the miner who falls apart most severely in the aftermath of rescue. The story was well “All the evenness of life, the ‘light’ part of it, really stunned me,” Edison says. “It shocked me to see people walking around, living normally. It shocked me because I would say ‘Hey, where I come from isn’t like that. I come from a place where we were fighting desperately to live.’ I came out and found this shit called peace. It threw me off. That’s my favorite passage of the book. Of course, Edison Pena is the miner who falls apart most severely in the aftermath of rescue. The story was well told, and sometimes moving, but overall it lacked oomph. As admirable as it is to try to tell the story of all the miners collectively, it’s inevitable that some emerge as stronger or more remarkable or insightful personalities, while the wallflowers fade into the dark stone of the mine. That made some of the mentions seem gratuitous, like the author had to get everyone’s name in somehow. I understand, yet it’s transparent. Underground, there were squabbles and low spirits and fear, but there was no epic struggle. It was awful to be trapped, but it was also boring: long days of darkness and monotonous anxiety. At times I felt the writer was padding the book with whatever he could unearth – going through his notes for the best quotes and anecdotes, but some of them were short-lived conflicts or emotions that went out with a whimper rather than a bang, and then it was on to the next thing. Of course, that’s how it was, so what was I expecting? I guess when you slap the dubious word “miracle” in the title you’re setting some readers up to be underwhelmed.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    I enjoyed this book--found it riveting and revealing. My husband did not feel the same: He likes action, and there was very little action for the 33 trapped miners in the first 17 days. I liked it because I am very interested in what was going on in their minds--before, during, and especially after the mine collapsed around them. I remember seeing the first miner emerge and remember the relief I felt for him and for them. I plan to share this book with friends but will warn them it's NOT swashbu I enjoyed this book--found it riveting and revealing. My husband did not feel the same: He likes action, and there was very little action for the 33 trapped miners in the first 17 days. I liked it because I am very interested in what was going on in their minds--before, during, and especially after the mine collapsed around them. I remember seeing the first miner emerge and remember the relief I felt for him and for them. I plan to share this book with friends but will warn them it's NOT swashbuckling.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hank Stuever

    Somewhat gripping and finely reported narrative of a major news event that I just didn't seem to care much about when it was happening in 2010, but was definitely intrigued by now, four-plus years later. I think I just needed this tale told to me in this form -- as a contained work of book-length prose from a trustworthy narrator, instead of round-the-clock and sensational TV coverage. I can't imagine the amount of notes, transcribing (and translating!) that Hector Tobar had to to sort through h Somewhat gripping and finely reported narrative of a major news event that I just didn't seem to care much about when it was happening in 2010, but was definitely intrigued by now, four-plus years later. I think I just needed this tale told to me in this form -- as a contained work of book-length prose from a trustworthy narrator, instead of round-the-clock and sensational TV coverage. I can't imagine the amount of notes, transcribing (and translating!) that Hector Tobar had to to sort through here in order to finish this book, which may account for why some of the detail feels like way too much detail. The paragraphs are quite long and I wish there was a more useful visual aide for keeping the 33 men separate than the rows of tiny mugshot photos in the front of the book. I was also pleased to see a writer attempt (successfully, I think) to tell his story in present-tense. (There's a camp of nonfiction writers who insist all stories be written in past-tense.) In any case, once you're deep down in the dark with the miners, you can't put "Deep Down Dark" down until they see the light of day. And then the story gets more fascinating, as each of the miners grapples with the empty promises of fame, fortune and fleeting notoriety -- an experience for which they were less equipped than the experience of being buried alive.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Deep. Down. Dark. The title says it all. Like the vast and terrible San Jose copper mine, this true story has many voices, many layers, many veins. The main narrative centers on how 33 disparate personalities—righteous and profane; egocentric and meek—survive their ordeal together. But the warnings and after-shocks stay with you, too, from the voice of the mine itself, a haunting wail that precedes the disaster, to the echoes of trauma and epiphany that alter the lives of the men long after they Deep. Down. Dark. The title says it all. Like the vast and terrible San Jose copper mine, this true story has many voices, many layers, many veins. The main narrative centers on how 33 disparate personalities—righteous and profane; egocentric and meek—survive their ordeal together. But the warnings and after-shocks stay with you, too, from the voice of the mine itself, a haunting wail that precedes the disaster, to the echoes of trauma and epiphany that alter the lives of the men long after they are rescued. By telling the story in present tense, starting with the fateful bus ride to the mine that begins the work week (a grueling 1000-mile round trip for at least one man), the author helps us enter this world gradually, using the thoughts and daydreams of each miner as a conduit to the history and geology of Chile itself.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Gates

    Made no sense why publisher didn't insist on drawings or diagrams to help the reader with logistics of their entrapment and eventual rescue. To not have the men with their photos listed alphabetically is ridiculous. Captivating story of survival but terribly frustrating with lack of helpful info. Jumped from measurements of feet and meters. Unnecessarily frustrating.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lenox

    The book was great, I really liked how the story was written.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Silvestrini

    Who wasn't enthralled in the story of these 33 men buried alive? Everyone was tuned in, waiting the outcome, hoping, stressing, praying. I was really looking forward to hearing their story and what went on down there. It's such an intriguing real life story with an actual happy ending, Deep Down Dark goes behind the scenes and tells us their story. 33 men: 69 days unimaginable but it happened in Chile in 2010. Until now it was one of those news stories we all remember but Hector Tobar has brought Who wasn't enthralled in the story of these 33 men buried alive? Everyone was tuned in, waiting the outcome, hoping, stressing, praying. I was really looking forward to hearing their story and what went on down there. It's such an intriguing real life story with an actual happy ending, Deep Down Dark goes behind the scenes and tells us their story. 33 men: 69 days unimaginable but it happened in Chile in 2010. Until now it was one of those news stories we all remember but Hector Tobar has brought these men to live as human beings; fathers, brothers, husbands and sons. You will learn about their lives before and their lives since. It's impossible to live through something like this and NOT have it change you. The truth about the conditions is as bad as one would imagine but to hear it told straight from the miners experiences is heart wrenching but also speaks to the human spirit and ones ability to survive even under the worst conditions. These men experienced a full gamete of emotions: hope, despair, loneliness, companionship, isolation, encouragement, depression. You name it; they felt it during those 69 days. The only anguish that parallels theirs is the families 1/2 mile above them waiting for news, praying, hoping, day after day after long day. I like that Tobar begins with these mens stories and takes us through their lives leading to the accident, during and after. It humanizes them. A father leaving for work. A husband denied his daily goodbye kiss because his wife is mad at them. These are ordinary, every day men going to work, until they aren't. The story that had the world watching is beautifully told by Tobar and answers all the questions you would have about these men and their ordeal. Their ordeal did not end when they were rescued and for many, never will. The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine is as captivating as the original news story itself and then some!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dayna

    I read this book because it was recommended by Ann Patchett on NPR's new book club. I wouldn't have read it otherwise. I remember watching this story unfold on CNN and was amazed that these miners were alive. This book is very in depth and detailed and that's where it became very slow reading. I believe that the author had the best intentions in recording every meal, every movement, every thought, etc. of these men but it doesn't make for compelling reading.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    It was difficult for me to keep the 33 men straight in my head while listening to it on audiobook. I liked how the author reminded us with small phrases like "with the heart of the dog" or "the man who gave his wife a long hug," but I wish I had not needed those character reminders. Overall I liked this and am glad I gave it a try. I was pleased to educate myself about an event I knew little about but that was so important to Chile.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Hearing Deep Down Dark (audio version) by Hector Tobar is amazing emotional experience. It runs through almost all emotions that man can experience. You are afraid with the miners, despondent, exhilarated, lighthearted, fearing, surprised, impressed, and inspired. This is the true story of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped by a collapse of the San Jose Mine for 69 days. It would seem like a miracle if any of them survived but all 33 did. The author takes us from the morning of when the men f Hearing Deep Down Dark (audio version) by Hector Tobar is amazing emotional experience. It runs through almost all emotions that man can experience. You are afraid with the miners, despondent, exhilarated, lighthearted, fearing, surprised, impressed, and inspired. This is the true story of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped by a collapse of the San Jose Mine for 69 days. It would seem like a miracle if any of them survived but all 33 did. The author takes us from the morning of when the men from different towns in Chili to close the time that their account was written. This is a very dangerous occupation of course, why did they go down to the depths? It was also the highest paying job in the area. The miners work as deep as 2,000 feet underground. They only come up briefly for lunch and so they see darkness for most of the day. On this particular day, the mountain was making strange noises, the miners called it “weeping”. Then a sound like thunder moves through the mountain while they are below. Previously in 2007, a geologist met his death in the same mine. Measures were supposed to have been taken to make this very old mine safer. But that would have been expensive for the owners and the miners were gambling their lives for money for their families to survive, for their children to have an education, for food and shelter. On this day, the noises were different. Something ominous was about to happen. Hector Tomar tells us about the individual miners about them, their wives, children and lovers. By the end of this audio experience, you feel that you know each of them. You know about their family problems, their fears, their ambitions and their reactions to the collapse and to the experience wanted and unwanted fame. The names stick in your mind. The language add a depth of richness. When you learn the Spanish terms for the miners’ lingo, it often sounds like poetry so you want to play certain parts over and over again. I invite you to listen to the audio version of Deep Down Dark and I guarantee that you will never forget what these miners went through. This is an important document in the human experience of emotional trauma, triumph, PTSD, and extreme hunger and adjustment to everyday life. If you can only listen to one audio book, make it this one! I received this book from the publishers as a win from FirstReads and that had no effect on my thoughts or feelings in my review. Merged review: Hearing Deep Down Dark (audio version) by Hector Tobar is amazing emotional experience. It runs through almost all emotions that man can experience. You are afraid with the miners, despondent, exhilarated, lighthearted, fearing, surprised, impressed, and inspired. This is the true story of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped by a collapse of the San Jose Mine for 69 days. It would seem like a miracle if any of them survived but all 33 did. The author takes us from the morning of when the men from different towns in Chili to close the time that their account was written. This is a very dangerous occupation of course, why did they go down to the depths? It was also the highest paying job in the area. The miners work as deep as 2,000 feet underground. They only come up briefly for lunch and so they see darkness for most of the day. On this particular day, the mountain was making strange noises, the miners called it “weeping”. Then a sound like thunder moves through the mountain while they are below. Previously in 2007, a geologist met his death in the same mine. Measures were supposed to have been taken to make this very old mine safer. But that would have been expensive for the owners and the miners were gambling their lives for money for their families to survive, for their children to have an education, for food and shelter. On this day, the noises were different. Something ominous was about to happen. Hector Tomar tells us about the individual miners about them, their wives, children and lovers. By the end of this audio experience, you feel that you know each of them. You know about their family problems, their fears, their ambitions and their reactions to the collapse and to the experience wanted and unwanted fame. The names stick in your mind. The language add a depth of richness. When you learn the Spanish terms for the miners’ lingo, it often sounds like poetry so you want to play certain parts over and over again. I invite you to listen to the audio version of Deep Down Dark and I guarantee that you will never forget what these miners went through. This is an important document in the human experience of emotional trauma, triumph, PTSD, and extreme hunger and adjustment to everyday life. If you can only listen to one audio book, make it this one! I received this book from the publishers as a win from FirstReads and that had no effect on my thoughts or feelings in my review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    This book was well reviewed which I suppose is why I wanted to read it. Though also I like stories of people surviving natural catastrophes. I thought, as I was reading the book, that it might only be a 4-star, but then around halfway through, it changed for me. I think it was from the point at which the miners were discovered that it changed. It is rare for me but I had tears in my eyes when the Note, tied to the drill bit that finally penetrated the miners' refuge, was discovered by the people This book was well reviewed which I suppose is why I wanted to read it. Though also I like stories of people surviving natural catastrophes. I thought, as I was reading the book, that it might only be a 4-star, but then around halfway through, it changed for me. I think it was from the point at which the miners were discovered that it changed. It is rare for me but I had tears in my eyes when the Note, tied to the drill bit that finally penetrated the miners' refuge, was discovered by the people on the surface. It is a triumphant moment even though the real story--of the real stories of the varied cast of miners--was just beginning. As this was an audiobook, I must say how well the reader, Henry Leyva, performed this book. He is obviously fluent in Spanish and it was lovely to hear some of the Spanish words throughout. They were translated but I have to credit the author with doing that with such grace: There was nothing clumsy about hearing either the English followed by the Spanish, or vice versa, as words of the miners were rendered. In fact, grace is how I would characterize the author's writing and approach. He is immensely sympathetic to the cast of characters: miners, their families, government officials, rescuers. Tobar never sensationalizes the story and, although not everyone behaves well throughout the ordeal, there is a constant sense of respect for all the characters portrayed. Tobar can also write lyrically, and this too seems to increase throughout the book. It is true that I never entirely mastered the miners' names nor those of their wives or girlfriends (maybe if I'd been reading rather than listening, this would have been easier). But Tobar did a good job reidentifying the characters as they reappeared: the Bolivian, the diary writer, the miner with the heart of a dog, etc. Of course, there's a tremendous amount of material online, so I was able to see the miners' faces and a diagram of the mine, showing where it collapsed and the area where they were able to survive. In some ways, the real drama of the story comes in the aftermath and the varied ways the miners handle the trauma, the celebrity, and picking up their own lives again on the surface.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jenny's

    Hector Tobar's Deep Down Dark, was not a miracle for me. When I tried to pinpoint how it could have been portrayed better I couldn't. I believe the nature and reality of the story is cumbersome. The events, lives and details were staggering. It was overload. And yet I kept going to the internet to get diagrams of the mine and pictures to put with the story. I read as much on line as I did from the book. On one hand it was to much, and on the other to little. There are so many people involved with Hector Tobar's Deep Down Dark, was not a miracle for me. When I tried to pinpoint how it could have been portrayed better I couldn't. I believe the nature and reality of the story is cumbersome. The events, lives and details were staggering. It was overload. And yet I kept going to the internet to get diagrams of the mine and pictures to put with the story. I read as much on line as I did from the book. On one hand it was to much, and on the other to little. There are so many people involved with this story. The miners, their wives, mistresses, children, mine owners, government officials, and the miners who were not trapped below etc. Tying all these people together in a massive intertwining is just messy and hard to follow at times. I do believe that the book would have been better served with the addition of more photographs and diagrams. Wrapping your head around the descriptions to get clear picture of what happened was very difficult. Why do some have hope? and others despair and see none? What does it take to survive such an ordeal? These questions were not answered to my satisfaction. We see the miracle of their rescue, their tenacious grasp on life, and yet the stories on the internet portray many of these men as shattered, and unable to work. Inadequate or little to no compensation and counseling have been devastating to many of these men. Messy lawsuits are involved for the movie rights which offered the only solution to any monetary compensation for many of them. Hollywood came knocking wanting the movie rights to there story. Apparently fast talking lawyers and contract experts cheated them of the agreed price for the movie rights. (no surprise there) Coming up with cash for counseling, and support for families and a future of any kind is bleak. The chilean miners experience is ongoing and far from over. Like many stories of this kind the focus is on the rescue. And I cant help but think that the aftermath for the families and miners is a second burial for some of them.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susanchitter

    I got bogged down a bit in places as author it seemed told every minute detail of the entrapment but it was fascinating to read how the 33 made it through such physical, mental and emotional stress.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Denny

    With this compelling narrative of a catastrophic mine collapse and the resulting burial alive of 33 miners and subsequent massive rescue efforts, Hector Tobar does a good job of explaining the various social and economic factors that contributed to the mine's collapse while presenting each trapped miner, despite his fears, failings, and character flaws, in an entirely humane and dignified manner. This is a compelling tale of perseverance amid devastating privation as well as a telling commentary With this compelling narrative of a catastrophic mine collapse and the resulting burial alive of 33 miners and subsequent massive rescue efforts, Hector Tobar does a good job of explaining the various social and economic factors that contributed to the mine's collapse while presenting each trapped miner, despite his fears, failings, and character flaws, in an entirely humane and dignified manner. This is a compelling tale of perseverance amid devastating privation as well as a telling commentary on the power & influence of and potential for abuse within social institutions like the government and the media. Henry Leyva does an admirable job of personalizing the many individuals in this diverse cast of characters.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Beckbunch

    I read this a couple of years ago and was reminded when I saw it on someone else's list. I was fascinated by the personalities of the men, their families back at home, and the whole mining industry. It takes brave men and women to work in such trying conditions.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Pictures! This book so obviously needs pictures!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kadi

    This story of these men is absolutely fascinating. However, I didn't care for the writing style and was really craving some pictures!! So glad I read this, but I'm left wanting more.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    Mining: where hard drinking and hard working men descend daily into the bowels of the Earth, 2000 feet below ground level. The jobs are varied: Truck driver. Electrician. Heavy machinery operator. Mechanic. Foreman. Supervisor. 12-hour shifts. The conditions are appalling. Temperatures which range from 110-120oF. Humidity levels above 80%. Dust and dirt everywhere. Constant noise from drilling and machines. Men are transported to the work area each morning, brought up for a lunch break, and retu Mining: where hard drinking and hard working men descend daily into the bowels of the Earth, 2000 feet below ground level. The jobs are varied: Truck driver. Electrician. Heavy machinery operator. Mechanic. Foreman. Supervisor. 12-hour shifts. The conditions are appalling. Temperatures which range from 110-120oF. Humidity levels above 80%. Dust and dirt everywhere. Constant noise from drilling and machines. Men are transported to the work area each morning, brought up for a lunch break, and returned down to the site until being driven back up at the end of the shift. They work Deep Down Dark. On August 5, 2010, just before the lunch break, a seismic rupture caused the mine to collapse upon itself, trapping 33 men. Among the 33 miners were one Bolivian immigrant and 32 citizens of Chile. Hector Tobar has crafted an incredible retelling of the story of these 33 miners who were trapped underground for 69 days after a cave-in at the San Jose Mine in the Atacama Desert in Chile. In his book, we meet the miners. We look at and contemplate their lives and the reasons they have for working under these circumstances. We see the forthright leadership that prevents anarchy during those 69 days of darkness and heat. Incredible inventiveness allows a tiny bit of light to emit from their helmets. Making use of the extremely limited food, they agree, like Jesus with his five loaves and two fishes, to limit themselves to one tablespoon of tuna and 1/2 cookie per day. They have access to water, but it isn't pure and clean. They live. They exist. They bond. Day by day and night by night. For 17 days until a drill broke through the wall. From that time, conditions began to improve. Anxiety was lessened. Depression was moderated. And then they waited. And waited. For 50 more days. As the engineers and mechanics and mine personnel on the surface expanded the diameter of the bore hole until it was approximately one yard across, and deemed to be capable of delivering one man at a time back to the surface. Back to life. As I read this riveting book, I realized that it was not just "bring them up". Who would be the first to ascend? Who would be the last? It was acclimating them to food after weeks of near starvation. It was thick dark glasses as they got used to sunlight again. And, it was the miners looking at their lives as they felt they had been given "another chance to live" -- priorities changed, nothing to be taken for granted. This is a story of despair, followed by promise, hope, resurrection and afterlife. "The 33", who felt the power of that number, being the age of Jesus when he was crucified, are an amazing group of men. I read this e-book courtesy of Edelweiss.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    My husband bought me this book for Christmas after he heard Ann Patchett's glowing review on NPR. Background: I was a little obsessed by the story when it was breaking news back in the fall of 2010. I was home on bedrest during September-October 2010, and watching this unbelievable story unfold on the news was one of the things I l looked forward to most during that time period. I even dressed up as a Chilean miner for Halloween that year -- a few weeks after all 33 men had been rescued from the My husband bought me this book for Christmas after he heard Ann Patchett's glowing review on NPR. Background: I was a little obsessed by the story when it was breaking news back in the fall of 2010. I was home on bedrest during September-October 2010, and watching this unbelievable story unfold on the news was one of the things I l looked forward to most during that time period. I even dressed up as a Chilean miner for Halloween that year -- a few weeks after all 33 men had been rescued from the mine! It almost goes without saying that this book may have been my favorite Christmas gift of 2014. Having said all that, I know I may be a little biased in saying so, but this book was incredible. I literally could not put it down from when I first picked it up until I finished the last page. If only those pesky things like sleep and eating and life's responsibilities hadn't gotten in the way! The author clearly did years of research and hundreds of interviews to obtain multiple perspectives from each miner as to the events that occurred underground. His narrative feels truthful and accurate, but also at the same time merciful and understanding toward the different miners and their actions. He had plenty of opportunities to vilify various men and the actions they took, but went to great pains to provide context and background and the opportunity for each person to redeem himself. I appreciate that he didn't hold any one person up as a 100% bad or 100% good character -- instead, he presents each person as, well, a real person, in all their messy complicated wonderfulness. This approach resonates with me, because it's important to be reminded that even fallible, jerky, people can rise up and do great things that require great courage. And then return to being a jerk the next day. And then try to redeem themselves and start over again the next day. Such is the journey of life. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it represents a perfect combination of great research and writing, human and family drama, science, history, and...ultimate triumph. Even someone who has never set foot in the Atacama Desert can feel like she was part of this great human drama, because all these good humans in Chile came together to accomplish something miraculous. As you read about the men starting to come up the drill shaft, it will be hard to stop yourself from chanting along with the families and officials at the rescue site: "Chi-Chi-Chi, Le-Le-Le, CHILE!"

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