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The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City Paperback – October 1, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
It's amazing how much space there is belowground. So many abandoned tunnels for trains, gas lines, and water. One can still wire electricity, and some abandoned subway stations still have working bathrooms. Cubbies built to house maintenance workers now house the homeless. One community got water from a broken pipe where they showered and washed their clothes. Another even had a microwave. One wonders if any of them have Internet access.
I found it interesting that many tunnel-dwellers did not want to return to the surface, or to a normal life. They are the ultimate outsiders, and they have idealist views of their own lifestyle, while believing the surface is not for them. They are invisible, outcasts, on the surface world. Life is not better there. Underground they have a family and a purpose. Men who couldn't find work and provide for the family on the surface world can be productive members of "society" beneath the ground. It amazed me how much they helped one another, forming communities where each person had their role.Read more ›
Whether you believe in the existence of the Mole People or not, (and if they do not exist, I find it difficult to understand why a sizeable police team has been assigned to deal with them) this is a fascinating book; quite difficult to put down, which is high praise for a work of non-fiction on such a grim subject. Toth writes in a vivid, but honest and open way about her tunnel experiences; her youth lends clarity and simplicity to what could, from the pen of an older writer, have become a messy opinion laden tirade against society's ills. Here, the stories are fresh and vigorous, tinged with sympathy, humour, sadness, but above all, evidence of the author's enormous respect for her subjects. Toth gives no answers. The pasts of the people she introduces to us are hazy at best, and while sweeping generalisations can be made about why they chose to live underground, Toth herself is never so arrogant as to try to offer solutions or even possible causes for their problems. She challenges widely held ideas about how much of a problem the underground homeless are without either condoning or criticising any single individual or agency. She is always balanced, whether dealing with policemen or the homeless man whose stories about himself seem to change as often as the weather, absolutely non-judgemental, which in a book of this type, is refreshing.
The stories she tells are almost all unbelievable.Read more ›
The biggest eye rolls I performed while reading this were her description of a large tunnel going across midtown that doesn't exist, and supposedly natural caverns that any geologist will tell you CAN'T exist. Some of the inaccuracies come from the interviews of various homeless, but wouldn't you fact check your findings? A good number of the homeless folks I meet in NYC are legitimately disturbed.
She mentions the catacombs of Paris at one point, and I have a strong feeling this is where she took her inspiration from. Yes, New York has several tucked away areas that homeless people are living in, but the way she describes it you would think that every nook of underground is an interconnected community, and it simply isn't.
Most of her experiences underground just don't make sense once you do the tiniest bit of research. And that's what's annoying. If she wanted to spin a tale about people living underground, and the society that could evolve from that, her story would have held water a lot better if it took place in an older city, or she simply investigated this more. Even back when this book was published, the records of most underground construction were available for reference.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one book everyone should read. The author reveals the daily survival of this sub-culture. There's nothing that's cheerful about life in the tunnels.Published 6 months ago by Steven Byrd
If you enjoy studying certain types of people and human nature in general then this book is great. I suggest getting the book and reading it over a long period of time. Read morePublished 10 months ago by shellsager
This book explores the tunnels in and around the NYC subway system. Toth risks her life to get the full tour of the place. Read more
If you always wanted to read a mediocre 280 page article about homeless crackheads and the incompetent government employees that deal with them then congratulations! Read morePublished 11 months ago by Alejandro Alberto Roacho