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Far better than the story you thought you knew
on 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.