Thursday, August 18, 2011

33 Men

33 Men: Inside the Miraculous Survival and Dramatic Rescue of the Chilean Miners
By Jonathan Franklin
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2011. 307 pgs. Nonfiction

On August 5, 2010, the San Jose copper mine in Chile collapsed with thirty-three men still inside. For the next seventeen days, Chilean government members, families, and rescue workers hoped against hope that they'd be able to reach the miners--at a depth of 2300 feet--and that when they did, someone might still be alive. Meanwhile, down in the mine, the men were struggling to survive on contaminated water and one bite of tuna fish or less every day. When a borehill was finally drilled and reached the trapped miners, everyone was elated that all the men were still alive, but they still had major work to do to get them out; it wasn't until day sixty-nine that the miners were finally rescued, and in the ensuing weeks of waiting, there were family problems (such as the wife and girlfriend of a single miner meeting and fighting), disputes over censorship (some of those in charge of the miner's mental health were in favor of restricting the letters family members and miners wrote to each other), and sheer boredom, as well many other problems, to combat.

The story of the Chilean miners captured the world's attention, and Franklin, a journalist who was on site for much of this experience, has produced an accessible account of events. There are a lot of personal details left out--we don't really get to know the men very much--but the details of the problems with devising and executing the rescue plan are fascinating.


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