Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet

Spiegel & Grau. Jan. 2019. 288p. illus. ISBN 9780812996746. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780812996753. SOC SCI
OrangeReviewStarIn an era when many adventurers look to other worlds for discovery, Hunt (visiting scholar, Inst. for Public Knowledge, New York Univ.) goes in the opposite direction, burrowing into the shafts and tunnels leading into the earth. The author leads readers into abandoned train tunnels, Parisian sewers, old mines, and Australian ochre shafts. Hunt succeeds on a number of levels: daringly investigating the bowels of big city sewer lines, as an anthropologist among various cultures and archaeologist exploring long-forgotten ruins. Along the way, readers gain an appreciation of places and peoples seldom discussed, including the residents of sewers and other "intraterrestrial" voyagers. There's also a deeper layer to this work, such as discussions of origin stories, including Native American and Aboriginal Australian perspectives. Hunt is a pleasure to read; each page—like the subject matter at hand—offers a different and unexpected turn.
VERDICT This unique book is a real-life Journey to the Center of the Earth, a maze of dark corners and subterranean denizens that encompass unknown or forgotten worlds. The text maintains a fascinating, eerie, and otherworldly tone throughout and is too unique not to consider.
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