Underground: Book summary and reviews of Underground by Will Hunt

Underground

A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet

by Will Hunt

Underground by Will Hunt X
Underground by Will Hunt
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About this book

Book Summary

A panoramic investigation of the subterranean landscape, from sacred caves and derelict subway stations to nuclear bunkers and ancient underground cities - an exploration of the history, science, architecture, and mythology of the worlds beneath our feet.

When Will Hunt was sixteen years old, he discovered an abandoned tunnel that ran beneath his house in Providence, Rhode Island. His first tunnel trips inspired a lifelong fascination with exploring underground worlds, from the subways and sewers of New York City to the caves, catacombs, tombs, and bunkers in more than twenty countries around the world. Underground is both a personal exploration of Hunt's obsession and a wide-lensed study of how we are all connected to the underground, how caves and other dark hollows have frightened and enchanted, repelled and captivated, us through the ages.

In a narrative spanning continents and epochs, Hunt follows a cast of subterranea-philes who have dedicated themselves to investigating underground worlds. He tracks the origins of life with a team of NASA microbiologists a mile beneath the Black Hills, camps out for three days with urban explorers in the catacombs and sewers of Paris, descends with an Aboriginal family into a 35,000-year-old sacred mine in the Australian outback, follows a ghostlike graffiti artist writing stories in the subway tunnels of New York, and glimpses a sacred sculpture molded by Paleolithic artists in the depths of a cave in the Pyrenees.

Each adventure is woven with findings in mythology and anthropology, natural history and neuroscience, literature and philosophy. In elegant and graceful prose, Hunt cures us of our "surface chauvinism," opening our eyes to the planet's hidden dimension. He reveals how the subterranean landscape gave shape to our most basic beliefs, including how we think about ourselves as humans. At bottom, Underground is a meditation on the allure of darkness, the power of mystery, and our eternal desire to connect with what we cannot see.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A vivid illumination of the dark and an effective evocation of its profound mystery." - Kirkus

"At times, Hunt's claims for his subject's importance can be grandiose ('Underground worlds ... have guided how we think of ourselves and given shape to our humanity'), but he is always entertaining, and this brisk work, rife with intriguing characters and little-known traditions and communities, will leave many readers wanting to dig deeper into the worlds hiding beneath their feet." - Publishers Weekly

"This tour de force just might make you want to pull on a pair of rubber boots and strap on a headlamp to get a peek at the places we've forgotten." - Scott Carney, New York Times bestselling author of What Doesn't Kill Us

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Author Information

Will Hunt

Will Hunt's writing, photography, and audio storytelling have appeared in The Economist, The Paris Review, Discover, Audible Originals, and Outside, among other places. A recipient of grants and fellowships from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the MacDowell Colony, he is currently a visiting scholar at the NYU Institute for Public Knowledge. Underground is his first book.

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