THE DEEP DARK: Disaster and Redemption in America's Richest Silver Mine

Gregg Olsen, Author . Crown $24.95 (321p) ISBN 978-0-609-61016-9

The 1972 fire at Idaho's Sunshine silver mine was one of America's worst mine disasters, with 91 miners killed—some in mid-stride—by a "stealthy tornado" of smoke and carbon monoxide. True crime journalist Olsen (Abandoned Prayers ) has the narrative chops for this story. His suspenseful account conveys the already hellish everyday atmosphere of the mine, the panic and chaos of the sudden catastrophe, the heroic efforts to evacuate, the ghastly deaths of victims, the (sometimes overdrawn) horror of their decomposing bodies and the ordeal of two miners trapped in an air pocket. But he goes further, embedding his chronicle within a social panorama of the macho subculture of the miners—whose disdain for safety precautions may have raised the body count even as their hard-bitten sense of fraternity held them together in the emergency—and of the larger working-class community that frayed and bonded in the face of the tragedy. Like Sebastian Unger's The Perfect Storm , Olsen's is a story of male workers engaged in a primordial resource-extraction occupation, battling natural elements—earth, fire and (poisoned) air—that overwhelm the ties of masculine solidarity. In his gripping treatment, stocked with vividly drawn characters, one finds a metaphorical elegy for America's doomed industrial proletariat. Photos. Agent, Susan Raihofer. (On sale Feb. 8)

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
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Compact Disc - 978-1-4193-3692-8
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Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-307-23730-9
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