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Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2010: Set in impenetrable darkness, James M. Tabor's Blind Descent is as awe-inspiring as any adventure story above ground. Tabor's claustrophobic and pulse-pounding narrative follows two of the world's premier cavers--American Bill Stone and Ukrainian Alexander Klimchouk--as they race to explore Earth's deepest caves, swimming through steering wheel-sized tunnels and scaling rock walls slick with spring runoff. Caving is dirty and dangerous work, and Tabor pulls no punches in describing the many terrifying hazards that cavers face underground, including falling rocks, hypothermia, starvation, nitrogen narcosis, hallucinations, hypoxia, and deadly anxiety attacks. He captures the eerie mixture of excitement and horror that accompanies life in extreme environments, while shedding light on the ineffable and complex moral code that governs men and women in places where survival is hoped for, but never guaranteed. Blind Descent is a captivating summer read for adventure seekers and armchair adrenaline junkies alike. --Lynette Mong
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Tabor, a former contributing editor at Outside magazine and author of Forever on the Mountain, contrasts two sterling teams, one American and the other Russian, in their perilous search to locate the deepest supercave on earth. While the book dwells largely on the obsessive, authoritative American star caver, Bill Stone, the writer gives just enough ink to the bold Soviet team counterpart ,Alexander Klimchouk, and his fair-but-firm leadership in his expeditions into the subterranean world. However, the personalities of the adventurers aside, it's the fascinating information of the big supercave treks that holds the reader to his seat, containing dangers aplenty with deadly falls, killer microbes, sudden burial, asphyxiation, claustrophobia, anxiety, and hallucinations far underneath the ground in a lightless world. Using a pulse-pounding narrative, this is tense real-life adventure pitting two master cavers mirroring the cold war with very uncommonly high stakes. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I accidentally purchased this, thinking it was the first Hallie Leland novel, as I enjoyed Frozen Solid immensely. After reading this, I will be buying Deep Zone and expect it to be great just based on Blind Descent. If the truth is this good, I can't wait to see what Tabor's imagination does with it.
Stone's obscession with Hualta cave and the difficult San Augustin sump leads him to invent a rebreathing scuba system that creates controversy when an expedition member, Ian Rolland, an experienced cave diver dies suddenly trying to crack the sump. The author belabors the issue unnecessarily, mostly because numerous expedition members and others implicate the rebreathing system in Rolland's death. However, when Stone and his girlfriend, novice cave diver Barbara am Ende, crack the sump with the same system Rolland used it becomes clear that Stone's rebreather is revolutionary despite its complexity.
The title of deepest cave eventually goes to Krubera and Klimchouk's team.
The book is filled with the technically difficulties of descending into deep supercave systems. The story is well written and exhaustively researched however it does ramble on at times and perseverates over some issues that can be dealt with in one paragraph. Still, it is a worthwhile read and a window into the underworld exploits of spelunkers.
Bring together no personal experience exploring caves and without any knowledge on the subject, I found "Blind Descent" to be a fascinating and at times a nerve wracking read. The individuals who pursue these caves possess some of the same characteristics as world class mountain climbers, except they enjoy spending their time in the dark, burrowing through rocks, descending giant waterfalls and into sinkholes and looking for air pockets that might lead to new, unexpored passages.
There are times when it can be a bit difficult to make a mental image of what Tabor is describing, especially without exprience exploring caves and without pictures (completely realize why there aren't) but overall, "Blind Descent" makes for a fascinating read about some of the least explored and least hospitable parts of the earth.
But I loved the way Tabor framed this story as a race between two very different explorers, in very different environments, with very different management styles, temperament, and personalities.
Could the book have used a little editing? Sure.
I also would have liked more pictures and maps, or perhaps that's just an issue with the Kindle edition -- I'm not sure.
But in the whole I would recommend this book as a look at a relatively unknown yet massive achievement, which happened just a few years ago while no one was really paying attention.
I enjoyed Tabor's account of the rush to find the deepest supercavern on earth - for the most part. I really enjoyed the more technical portions of the book, talking about the caves themselves, the caving equipment, the differences in U.S. caving and European caving, the details of the expeditions themselves.
The book was definitely weighted to give more of an accounting of the U.S. expeditions led by Bill Stone. Probably 2/3 of the book was given over to Stone. The last 1/3 of the book was the accounting of the European expedition led by Ukrainian Alexander Klimchouk. The Stone portion ended up with too many personal details that actually detracted from the story. Klimchouk's portion was concise, informational, and much more readable.
I enjoyed having the photograph section in the middle of the book. It was helpful being able to put faces to the main characters being discussed. And it was very interesting to see shots of the caves themselves. I wish there had been more photographs, in fact.
I don't know how these men and women do what they do - knowing that if they are hurt deep in one of these caves it could very well be a death sentence. Brave people!
I read Tabor's novel The Deep Zone after this book and I actually enjoyed it more. It seemed that the author incorporated a lot of what was learned during the writing of "Blind Descent" and it made a very believable book.