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Finding the Devil: Darkness, Light, and the Untold Story of the Chilean Mine Disaster (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

William Langewiesche
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $2.99

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Book Description

They were thirty-three men trapped beneath tons of rock half a mile underground. The odds of them making it out alive were almost nil. When they emerged nearly two months later, they were known around the world simply as the Chilean miners, and theirs had become one of the greatest survival stories of our time. But few of us know what really happened above and below the ground at that treacherous mine near Copiapó, Chile.

In his extraordinary report on the San Jose mine disaster, William Langewiesche, a two-time National Magazine Award winner and nine-time finalist, brings a cinematic eye for detail to bear on the many stories within the story. First there were the men trapped 2,200 feet below the surface, where they diligently rationed canned peaches as they waited in the dark for rescue. There was the well-intentioned minister of mining, who wanted only to bring the men back alive; a Chilean president perhaps hoping to use the opportunity to bolster his approval ratings; rescuers flown in from around the world, with competing plans of attack. There was the adventurous Hungarian family that built the mine, and the owners who cut corners to keep the business alive. And there was the incessant cry of the pneumatic hammers used to bore half a mile through bedrock, hoping blindly to reach their target.

Finally, there was the tense seven-week period during which families waited to see their loved ones again, the elaborate preparations for the rescue ceremony, the psychologists who prepared the miners for the celebrity status that awaited them on the surface. As the decisive moment came near, Langewiesche writes, "a parade of characters kept showing up at the scene uninvited: priests and preachers, nuns, jugglers, Mormons, mimes, theater troupes, poets, long-distance walkers, a human billboard, and four Uruguayan survivors of the Andean airplane crash described in 'Alive.' "

Widely considered to be one of our era’s greatest narrative journalists, Langewiesche has been hailed by the "Washington Post" as a "sharp observer and gifted stylist whose sentences often have a kind of poetic precision." In "Finding the Devil," he uses that precision to unveil truths about human nature during a crisis, and to ask the provocative question: What is heroism, and what are mere heroics?


"Author William Langewiesche goes past [the] long-forgotten pictures and headlines to present a keen, thorough picture of the circumstances surrounding this remarkable event. … His reporting on the miners' remarkable mental and physical stamina, and on the complicated rescue effort and surrounding publicity circus, makes 'Finding the Devil' a powerful and entertaining read." —Liz Colville, San Francisco Chronicle


William Langewiesche is the international correspondent for "Vanity Fair" and the author of several books, including "The Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of the Nuclear Poor," "The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom, Chaos, and Crime," "Cutting for Sign," about politics along the U.S.-Mexico border, "Sahara Unveiled: A Journey Across the Desert," "Aloft: Thoughts on the Experience of Flight," "Fly by Wire," about the successful landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, and "American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center," a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Langewiesche has won two National Magazine Awards and has been a finalist nine times.


“[A] formidable talent … whose cool, precise and economical reporting is harnessed to an invigorating moral and intellectual perspective.” —The New York Times

“Langewiesche’s prose flows seamlessly and elegantly.” —San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

Editorial Reviews Review

Exquisitely reported and written with the urgency of an adventure novel, Langewiesche's story of the 2010 Chilean mine disaster is a breathless page turner, equal parts Eiger Sanction and Into Thin Air. Through extensive interviews, Langewiesche has crafted a fast-paced, blow-by-blow account that goes beyond the hows and whys of the collapse to explore the physics of the calamitous event, the role of human error and the absurd improbability of the miners' rescue. For those who've forgotten: 33 men spent 69 days trapped in stifling darkness, half a mile underground. Though we know the outcome, Langewiesche unearths details that weren't reported at the time, creating chills-up-the-spine moments of suspense. Particularly nail-biting are the relentless, treacherous, and courageous efforts of the rescuers, whose success is propelled by an unthinkable confluence of luck, skill and bravado. A diverse and eccentric cast of characters--from a reluctant politician who finds his moxie to the diminutive, buck-toothed head of an elite rescue squad--all slowly reveal their ability to find grace (or not) under the extremes of emotional and societal pressure. Though the rescue itself was a marathon (it took seventeen days to confirm that anyone had even survived), Langewiesche’s deeply satisfying story reads like a sprint. The near-misses and setbacks, each adding to the trauma inflicted on miners' families, make the eventual success a thrilling climax to this Hollywood-ready drama, which is ultimately an ode to the human spirit and the will to survive. --Neal Thompson

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far better than the story you thought you knew November 26, 2012
More than two years after the rescue of the Chilean miners, I had thought that I knew everything I wanted to know about their plight. Then I read "Finding the Devil," William Langewiesche's panoramic spectacle of the extraction. His mastery of the technical details of mining--the construction of tunnels, the nature of drills, the climate underground--is extraordinary, as is his ability to communicate this knowledge to the common reader. His portraits of the miners and their rescuers are incisive, as is his portrayal of the political circus that sprang up around the crisis from the beginning. Unexpectedly, Finding the Devil is tinged with comedy throughout. Not long after the drill bit explodes through the ceiling of the refuge, leading to joyous contact with the world above, several of the miners' families smuggle marijuana back down the shaft to their men. Langewiesche's epic will survive as the authoritative account of this not quite unalloyed tale of survival.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing and Heroic December 14, 2012
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Though I followed the story of the Chilean miners as the disaster unfolded, I had no idea of the rich tale behind the headlines. Langewiesche, an absolute master storyteller and reporter, delivers a gripping account of the miners' plight almost a mile underground as well as the opportunistic circus that sprang up on the fringes of the rescue effort. A wonderful story of survival, courage, and human nature.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Story, Expertly Told December 12, 2012
Another gripping and detail-rich story by the best reporter working today. Nobody is able to combine the technical and human sides of the story like the author.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Oh yeah...What happened? April 12, 2014
By Josh
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One of those stories that you remember from a few years back....I remember just thinking "those poor guys are dead...." but as already there is more to the story than that, and the author does a great job of telling the whole story with perspective and hindsight. Recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good look down the Shaft February 13, 2014
By kaykan
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Like the rest of the world, I was mesmerized to the tale of the Chilean Miners and I cried as I watched their rescue on television. This is an interesting look at details that escaped the TV monitors. I did however, wish for more. I didn't feel that I had learned a great deal more and I would have liked to "meet" more of the miners personally on the page. Worth the read, but somewhat disappointing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars well written, compelling, informative September 4, 2013
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This short balances the telling of a technical history of the engineering feat(s) involved in the rescue of the 33, telling the human story of the men and their families, and illuminating a small bit of the internal politics that inevitably swirl around such incidents (and balances it well). It is a quick and compelling read that was well worth the time and price.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Since This Occured Not Long Ago May 29, 2013
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This is an interesting story of what happened with the trapped miners and how they were saved. But, one or two more chapters about the rescued miners TODAY would have been interesting. In other words, how are they and their families NOW coping.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
I found this story quite interesting. I am not really sure how the title fitted the story really, but it was an enjoyable read.
Published 14 months ago by Bronwyn Pearce
4.0 out of 5 stars Finding the Devil by William Langewiesch
A well written book about a story that the news on tv and newspaper kept us informed of for the duration. Read more
Published 15 months ago by mary chastain
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well done!
This is an excellent story of the Chilean mine disaster, well-written with understandable explanations of all the technical parts. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Esther Torrefiel
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting true story!
The story behind the headlines of the Chilean mine disaster. Learn the history of the mine and the torment suffered by the miners trapped underground for months.
Published 15 months ago by Sandra D. Campbell
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed
Interestingly comprehensive account, but we probably already knew a lot of the content. Having said that reading this will not be a waste. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm never going mining
A great fast read, informative, moves like a spy novel. Action, great characters and true to boot! The end was a real unsuspected surprise and by end, I mean the paragraphs about... Read more
Published 15 months ago by R. Semmens
3.0 out of 5 stars Much of the story is still untold
The whole world was captivated by the unfolding of the rescue of the Chilean miners and a great many of the events were captured by the media. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Bonnie Eisenberg
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