From Publishers Weekly
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 Junger'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.
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On May 2, 1972, a fire broke out deep inside the Sunshine Mine, in Kellogg, Idaho, while nearly 175 men were at work. Nearly half the workers made it out safely, and there were 91 deaths. This poignant book offers a detailed account of the fire, the toll it took on the small mining community, and the nail-bitingly suspenseful rescue operation to save the lives of two men trapped in the "deep dark" mine who survived for more than a week by eating the bagged lunches of their dead coworkers. Olsen, author of a number of books in the true-crime genre, brings his considerable narrative skills to bear in this true-adventure tale. He tells the story in remarkably vivid detail, forcing the reader to experience the horror of the deep dark and to feel the exhilaration of the successful rescue. David PittCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved