OUR STORY: 77 Hours That Tested Our Friendship and Our Faith
The story of the nine Pennsylvania coal miners who were trapped underground for more than three days last July could have easily been sidetracked by aphorisms about America's post–September 11 can-do spirit and the like. But since this tale is mainly told via the miners' own words, it's a blessedly unsentimental and true-to-life account of a horrifying situation and a triumphant escape. Goodell (The Cyberthief and the Samurai: The True Story of Kevin Mitnick—And the Man Who Hunted Him Down) proves a knowing scribe for this story of adventure and endurance, alternating between filling in the setting when necessary and just letting the miners talk, oral history style. For example, one miner, John Unger, recalls, "To keep our spirits up, we talked about what we were going to do when we got out.... Nobody had anything extravagant in mind. Harpo was going to have a cigarette and a beer and a chew." Goodell then adds, "At about 2:30 p.m., Yost's drill finally reached a depth of about 230 feet, roughly 15 feet above the floor of the mine." It's a pulse-racing tale, in which a drill punches into an old, abandoned, water-filled mine, quickly flooding the space where the miners are working, trapping them in a dark, cold pocket of rapidly diminishing air. Goodell wisely keeps the focus on these hard-bitten men and the bravery that kept them going through those long, indistinguishable days and nights underground. Photos. (Nov. 13)
Forecast:While the miners' brush with death resulted in a media frenzy at the time, many Americans have probably moved on, drawn in by other current events and the rumblings of war. Never underestimate the power of a feel-good book in rough times, though; this one has potential.
Release date: 11/01/2002