The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City

Jennifer Toth, Author Chicago Review Press $19.95 (267p) ISBN 978-1-55652-190-4
Viewed as pejorative by the very folk it denotes, the term ``mole people'' describes those who live in the tunnels under Manhattan's Grand Central Station, Penn Station, Port Authority and Riverside Park. This book grows out of an article that Toth, now a reporter for the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer , wrote in 1990 for the Los Angeles Times detailing the chilling plight of the moles. According to Lieutenant John Romero of the New York City Transit Police, ``95% are males between twenty and forty-five years old. At least 80% are mentally ill or chemically dependent.'' We learn that the life expectancy for homeless men is 45 years; most tunnel people (an estimated 5000) come from families that are frequently torn apart by drugs and violence. But what makes this book so troubling and memorable are Toth's profiles of the tunnel people: Mac, a white man in his early 50s, who hunts rats--``track rabbits''--which he cooks while reciting Thoreau; eight-year-old Julie, a Haitian who attends school, says, ``Everything I wish for I'm going to have, because I've been such a good girl;'' and Brenda, a Dartmouth dropout, who poetically laments, ``I love the loneliness of the tunnels. It's like a hug with nothing to hold you.'' A disturbing read that offers little hope of a better life for the tunnel people. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/30/1993
Release date: 09/01/1993
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 267 pages - 978-1-55652-241-3
Open Ebook - 280 pages - 978-1-56976-452-7
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