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Caves: Exploring Hidden Realms Hardcover – March 1, 2001

4.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If you were to travel to the Amazon, say, or the source of the Nile, you would likely find the people there wearing corporate logo-branded T-shirts and listening to the latest pop hits on the radio. Using a GPS device or satellite photos, you can track your location just about anywhere on the face of the planet. Given globalism and the ease of travel to once-remote places, where is a would-be flag-planting adventurer to go these days?

The answer, writes Michael Ray Taylor in this intriguing book, is inward: inside the earth by way of the millions of caves that pierce its surface. Following an international team of fellow cavers--men and women in peak physical form and apparently without fear--his narrative takes us deep within the ice caves of Greenland; a vast underground labyrinth of rivers and chambers in Mexico's Yucatan; a cave on a cliff wall overlooking the Colorado River near the Grand Canyon, one that no human had ever before entered; and other great caverns of North America. High-quality (and sometimes astounding) full-color images accompany the text, offering views that usher us into a world of blind snakes, bats, strange geological formations, and uncanny sights that few surface-dwellers have been privileged to see.

Caving is not merely adventure for its own sake, Taylor notes. "Over the past decade," he observes, "scientists have been surprised to learn that in the deepest recesses of the Earth are repositories of exotic microbes ... far more varied in types of species and their individual strategies for survival than all the plants of an equatorial rain forest." Some of these microbes, he suggests, may deliver chemicals for fighting disease; they also deliver important evidence about the history of life on the planet.

But, all that said, caving offers plenty of thrills, and Taylor's book does a superb job of capturing both the science and the adventure of a journey to the center of the earth. --Gregory McNamee

From Booklist

This visually rich work was produced in conjunction with a National Geographic IMAX project filming spelunkers exploring caves throughout the world. The film follows two female cavers in subterranean sites in Greenland, the Yucatan, and the south-central U.S. The photographs and the story of the explorations would be sufficient to recommend this work, but it also includes fascinating background material on the history of the caves, their biological diversity, the tools used by spelunkers in their explorations, and the geologic forces that have made caves into natural works of art. The sites for this work were obviously, and successfully, chosen because of their visual impact and variety: a giant glacial ice cavern, vast networks of underground rivers, and cramped passageways of dripping delicate crystals. Perhaps the most astounding feature that the book highlights is not the geology but the amazing range of life-forms that prosper in impossibly harsh conditions. Eric Robbins
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; 1st edition (March 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0792279042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0792279044
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 0.8 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #633,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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By Cynthia Powers on March 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book sight unseen and for one reason - it was written by Michael Ray Taylor (I'd read bathroom cleaner cans if he wrote the text for them). When I opened the box, I was stunned to find a coffee-table type book filled with incredibly beautiful photographs and great text. _Caves: Exploring Hidden Realms_ is a (stand alone, IMO) companion to the IMAX film of the same name; Kerbo's pictures are mind-blowing and the text is classic Taylor - accessible, entertaining, educational and just downright fun.
As an added treat, the microbiology angle of _Dark Life_ finds its way into _Caves: Exploring Hidden Realms_ as well. A bit of the text was taken from _Cave Passages_ but a very small bit and this didn't diminish my enjoyment. I can't say enough positive things about this book. Buy it!
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Format: Hardcover
This book is very well written with lovingly detailed chapters devoted to the many splendid cave networks dotted around the world. There's a great section on the flora and fauna of the underworld, as well. I went potholing in Kak Canyon once, and saw a couple of chutney ferrets, all thanks to this book. Incredible creatures - and I wouldn't have known they were there until I read this.
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A Kid's Review on February 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I really liked this book. It has good pictures for people who want to be a cave explorer. It tells you a good description of the caves these people explored. I really liked the fact that they explored ice, water and earth caves. I think students that are studying caves would really like this book
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I used this book, and the related IMAX video, as part of a cave biology experience for undergraduate biology majors this year. Both the book and the video are fantastic; I challenge anyone to consider biology boring after reading/viewing them. To prepare for a spring break "wild cave tour," our students read Taylor's book, watched the video, then had a presentation on caving by Taylor. He also accompanied us on the caving trip. (It doesn't hurt that both of us teach at the same university....) The students loved it all. They asked for, and received, permission to sample for microbes in the cave, and have grown up their bugs. We don't expect to find anything earthshaking, as human contamination even in lightly used caves is apparently ubiquitous, but this really got students excited. I enthusiastically recommend the book and the video combined, and following it up even with a trip to a developed cave would be a great experience for students.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For what you get, this IS a good book. However, there are a few things about it that I think detract just enough to only give the book 4/5.

1. The caves are all North American - no mention of the rest of the world. That said, the caves featured are abot the best in North America.

2. The other articles on cave geology and biology are good, but there are better ones. If you really want to know more, Cave Geology by Arthur Palmer and The Biology of Caves and Other Subterranean Habitats (Biology of Habitats) by David Culver are the ones to get.

So yes, this is a great "coffee table" book with some good generalist info. Though I think that the old Time Life book Underground Worlds (Planet Earth) is better all round, even if the photos aren't as good as this new one.

Well worth having if you get a good deal on the price, bt it's not the absolute best general book on caves around.
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