Underground
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 derelict subway stations and sewers of New York City to sacred caves, catacombs, tombs, bunkers, and ancient underground cities in more than twenty countries around the world. Underground is both a personal exploration of Hunt’s obsession and a panoramic study of how we are all connected to the underground, how caves and other dark hollows have frightened and enchanted us through the ages.In a narrative spanning continents and epochs, Hunt follows a cast of subterraneaphiles 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 mine in the Australian outback, 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 and guided 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.PRAISE FOR UNDERGROUND:“A mesmerizingly fascinating tale . . . I could not stop reading this beautifully written book.”—Michael Finkel, author of The Stranger in the Woods“Few books have blown my mind so totally, and so often. In Will Hunt’s nimble hands, excursion becomes inversion, and the darkness turns luminous. There are echoes of Sebald, Calvino, and Herzog in his elegant and enigmatic voice, but also real warmth and humor. . . . An intrepid—but far from fearless—journey, both theoretically and terrestrially.”—Robert Moor, New York Times bestselling author of On Trails“Underground left me, for days, wanting to go there—down, down, down, into the moisture and the mystery. It succeeds as reportage, as memoir, as historical survey and philosophical reflection. Will Hunt is a generous and literate mole man, beckoning us always to look lower.”—Ted Conover, author of Newjack“An unusual and intriguing travel book, into the world beneath the world we know . . . a vivid illumination of the dark and an effective evocation of its profound mystery.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)“Underground is for anyone who’s ever peered into a crack in the earth and felt that peculiar blend of unease and curiosity. Read this and you will never look at the ground beneath you in the same way again.”—Steve Rinella, author of MeatEater and American Buffalo“Will Hunt explores the subterranean world in all of its historic and psychological grandeur. 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

Underground Details

TitleUnderground
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 29th, 2019
PublisherSpiegel & Grau
Rating
GenreNonfiction, History, Travel, Science

Underground Review

  • Will Hunt
    January 1, 1970
    To be fair, I wrote this book ;)
  • Jessaka
    January 1, 1970
    Will Hunt spent time in the N.Y. underground, the subway tunnels. Revs did as well. Revs was a graffiti artist who spent many years using N.Y. City as a canvas. He became famous, but not in a way that made him money. Then Revs took a ladder, paints, and other tools of his trade into the subway tunnels at night when no one was watching. He picked out the most obscure sections, tose filled with darkness, to begin writing his book. With a paint roller and yellow or white paint, he made large book p Will Hunt spent time in the N.Y. underground, the subway tunnels. Revs did as well. Revs was a graffiti artist who spent many years using N.Y. City as a canvas. He became famous, but not in a way that made him money. Then Revs took a ladder, paints, and other tools of his trade into the subway tunnels at night when no one was watching. He picked out the most obscure sections, tose filled with darkness, to begin writing his book. With a paint roller and yellow or white paint, he made large book pages; his ladder came in handy. Then he took a spray can of black paint and began writing his life down. Will Hunt copied down his writings, but hed found it dangerous to dodge the trains. He met Revs once, and he tried to ask him questions about his art in those tunnels, but Revs wasn’t interested in talking. You can find some of those pages online by typing Revs, N.Y. City, Subway, and Diary.Will Hunt had spent years checking out underground cities and caves. It was quite a journey. In Paris he found the underground city and ventured below. It was what people called the catacombs, only it really wasn’t a burial place, not the kind we think of. He walked for miles and miles, and found rooms upon rooms. He learned that some of the people of Paris go into these catacombs to have parties, to even watch movies. Then there was a room where he found human remains, bones. Long ago there had been a plague. There were so many deaths that they could not bury all the bodies, so they threw the bodies down a hole above ground that landed the bodies in a room below, down in the catacombs. Life had lost its sacredness. Then Will went to Australia to see a cave there, one that the Aboriginal people were still able to protect. It was an ochre mine. The Aboriginals believe that they came up from these caves in the beginning of time. Even some of the Native Americans have this belief. There are actually creatures living in that darkness, creatures with no eyes. I ask, “How can a human, who had evolved in the caves, more than likely with no eyes, come out into the light and survive?” I have this vision of their sitting at the mouth of the cave in the sunlight feeling its warmth and the fresh air, fearing to venture no further, but after thousands upon thousands of years, developing eye sight. I especially like their belief that they went upon the earth along songlines (paths) singing songs, bringing the nature into existence. I think of the Creator as singing songs that brought the universe into existence. My favorite chapters were those on the caves, a topic that did not draw me to this book; it was the underground cities that had caught my interest. When Will writes, you see it all, you feel it all. First there were the cave paintings, which I had always found to be beautiful when seeing them in books or on the walls of a class room at college. Then there were the two bison sculptures made of clay from the cave. Whenever people came into the cave, Tuc d'Audoubert, they felt a sense of worship. A sacredness. It was in these caves that the cave dwellers had their religious ceremonies. They danced themselves into trances, seen by the footprints that had remained in the cave all these years. But what is more, being in a dark cave, in total darkness can cause the mind to expand. You get visions. And so I end this review with a couple of my own stories:When I was growing up in Paso Robles, CA there was the Cumming’s Mansion. Kids had stories about it. It was now abandoned, the man had, and his wife was in a rest home. Teenagers used to break into the house, so Mary and I thought, “Let’s try it.” We went to the back of the house during the day and began tearing boards off one of its windows. We climbed in and looked around. People had thrown things around. It was a mess. We went into the kitchen, and I saw a door, opened it, and found it led down to the cellar. I could see wine kegs, but that was all. We had not brought a flashlight, so we didn’t venture down the dark stairs. If we had, perhaps we would have found the tunnel, but we had not heard of it or perhaps we would have both brought flashlights.Years later my mom sent me a newspaper article on the Cumming’s Mansion because she had known of my interest in it. I wish that I still had that article. It said that Mr. Cummings had dug a tunnel from the basement to the lot across the street as an escape route. Who knows what he feared? Anyway, some high school kids had been in the tunnel and had started a fire by accident, so they closed up the opening to the tunnel. The house is no longer there, and it certainly would have made a wonderful museum.Then my husband told me a story of going to Chinatown in S.F. right after he first t of Nam. He was with his high school friend Jesse. Jesse’s older brother, Raymond, had asked them to come with him for protection. They packed guns. To Raymond led them into a Chinese restaurant, through the back room and then down stairs leading to an underground city. There was a very long hallway that had rooms on each side, and he could smell opium coming from the rooms. Raymond then went into a room by himself while they stayed out in the hall. Raymond later told him that there were prostitutes and opium dens down there and you could walk for a long time and come up in various parts of Chinatown. But it was a dangerous place, because you had to be either with a Chinese man or have some other business there. My husband felt it unwise to return. So I had hoped that Will Hunt had also heard of the underground city in Chinatown and had ventured there, but he hadn’t. What other cities do we have in America or around the world that people don’t know about?I have heard of underground cities in the past, so my interest in this book. What I didn’t expect was that this book was also about caves that the author had visited, and this section of the book turned out to be much more fascinating than the underground cities, because early man not only painted the cave walls, he also made animal sculptures from its clay, and then held religious rituals in them. What is more interesting is that the author stated that when you are in total darkness your mind can expand and cause you to have visions. Listening to his and other people’s experiences while visiting these caves, made them seen very sacred. I also found it interesting that the Aborigines in Australia and some American Indianals believe that they originally came from the caves. I doubt this because if you have evolved in darkness, like the animals in the caves, you wouldn’t develop eye sight, which I feel is needed in order to survive above ground, but then again, there could be an explanation that would prove me wrong. The author first went to Paris’ underground city, which I believe he said was 200 miles long. He first had to find a guide to help him find a way to get in, and when he did he walked much it. There were rooms and more rooms. One room was full of human remains, bones. There had been a plague centuries ago, so they dropped the bodies down a hole into this room and then covered it up. Mext, he mentioned how people sneak down to these catacombs and have parties in some of the rooms, even showing movies. I was fascinated by the subway system in N.Y. City, and how a man named Revs went into the underground where the subway trains run and there he painted pages of a book on the walls, and wrote his autobiography on them. I would love if the author of this book would publish them. He could call it Revs’ Life and other Graffiti. What Rev had done was paint the pages using white or yellow paint, and then with black spray paint he wrote about his life. (After I wrote this, I went online and found that someone had actually put his online. You can read it here: https://publicdelivery.org/revs-autob... )Graffiti can be interesting. I had a boyfriend in Berkeley in the 70s who wrote for the Berkeley Barb, an underground newspaper. He asked me if I would go into the women’s restrooms in town for him and write down the graffiti that I found interesting. He wanted to write an article on graffiti for the Barb. I remember one piece of graffiti in the Sproul Hall women’s restroom on campus. It was something about Nixon, saying that he had a crooked dick. And then I recall one in the Renaissance Cafe where one woman had written, “My mother made me a lesbian,” and another woman wrote under that, “If I give her a needle and thread will she make me one too?” Pricelessw. Revs’ graffiti was also priceless.And then there were what they called “The Mole People,” people who can’t stop digging. One man dug under his house for 40 years, just making tunnels. His back yard was piled high in soil from his diggings. His neighbors must have loved him. I have my own stories: There was the Cumming’s Mansion in my home town of Paso Robles, CA. When I was a teenager, I had heard that it was empty and boarded up, so my friend Mary and I broke into the house by tearing boards off one of it’s windows. We had not heard about the underground tunnel, and since we had no flashlights, we were afraid to go down into the basement, but if we had, maybe we would have found it. Years later my mom sent me a newspaper article on the Cumming’s Mansion because she had known of my interest in it. I wish that I still had that article. It said that Mr. Cummings had dug a tunnel from the basement to the lot across the street as an escape route. Who knows what he feared? Anyway, some high school kids had been in the tunnel and had started a fire by accident, so they closed up the opening to the tunnel. The house is no longer there, and it certainly would have made a wonderful museum.Then my husband told me a story of going to Chinatown in S.F. right after he got out of Nam. He was with his high school friend Jesse. Jesse’s older brother Raymond had asked them to come with him in order to protect him. He had business in Chinatown. So they all packed guns and headed for Chinatown. Raymondher led them into a Chinese restaurant, then through the back room and down stairs leading to an underground city. My husband said that there was a very long hallway that had rooms on each side, and he could smell opium. Raymond then went into a room by himself while they stayed out in the hall. He learned from Raymond that there were prostitution and opium dens there, and that you could walk for a long time and come up in various parts of Chinatown. My husband only went twice with them, and then he got married and went to college. He has no idea what had happened to Jesse after that as they lost contact with each other, which was really for the best. Sn in France they fell in awe. I have heard of underground cities in the past, so my interest in this book. What I didn’t expect was that this book was also about caves that the author had visited, and this section of the book turned out to be much more fascinating than the underground cities, because early man not only painted the cave walls, he also made animal sculptures from its clay, and then held religious rituals in them. What is more interesting is that the author stated that when you are in total darkness your mind can expand and cause you to have visions. Listening to his and other people’s experiences while visiting these caves, made them seen very sacred. I also found it interesting that the Aborigines in Australia and some American Indianals believe that they originally came from the caves. I doubt this because if you have evolved in darkness, like the animals in the caves, you wouldn’t develop eye sight, which I feel is needed in order to survive above ground, but then again, there could be an explanation that would prove me wrong. The author first went to Paris’ underground city, which I believe he said was 200 miles long. He first had to find a guide to help him find a way to get in, and when he did he walked much it. There were rooms and more rooms. One room was full of human remains, bones. There had been a plague centuries ago, so they dropped the bodies down a hole into this room and then covered it up. Mext, he mentioned how people sneak down to these catacombs and have parties in some of the rooms, even showing movies. I was fascinated by the subway system in N.Y. City, and how a man named Revs went into the underground where the subway trains run and there he painted pages of a book on the walls, and wrote his autobiography on them. I would love if the author of this book would publish them. He could call it Revs’ Life and other Graffiti. What Rev had done was paint the pages using white or yellow paint, and then with black spray paint he wrote about his life. (
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  • Nick T. Borrelli
    January 1, 1970
    Very cool book about the unique world of our subterranean landscape. Whether it be subway systems, mines, catacombs, underground tunnels, etc.... This is a fascinating world tour penned by an urban explorer who documents the amazing underground world that exists and that we rarely even notice or think about. A quick read but a very fun one that I found entertaining and enlightening. Definitely pick this one up when it comes out in January of 2019.
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  • Mel
    January 1, 1970
    Imagine yourself on an afternoon hike, stooping to push aside branches blocking a walk that meandered off the beaten path, and upon removing the pile of debris feeling the breath of a world beneath you coming from a small obscure opening in the ground. It takes a certain type of person to venture into this opening.Interesting and well-researched; more philosophical than I expected. Author Will Hunt, I discovered, is equal parts thrill-seeker, philosopher, and academic. The mythology and other pi Imagine yourself on an afternoon hike, stooping to push aside branches blocking a walk that meandered off the beaten path, and upon removing the pile of debris feeling the breath of a world beneath you coming from a small obscure opening in the ground. It takes a certain type of person to venture into this opening.Interesting and well-researched; more philosophical than I expected. Author Will Hunt, I discovered, is equal parts thrill-seeker, philosopher, and academic. The mythology and other pieces of history the author connects to the world-wide sites he visits are worth thinking about. The author goes deep, both literally and figuratively and does a good job of accomplishing a well thought out and structured book about the subject of *worlds* (civilizations, creations, megacosms). REVS’ autobiography, in the farthest folds of NY's subway Descending into underground of Paris Where I expected more of a look into unknown subterranean discoveries through the eyes of a thrill-seeking explorer, I was educated rather than merely thrilled. True, it is thrilling to think of new discoveries beneath the feet we think are standing on terra firma. I was impressed by the information Hunt covers and the many diverse locations he shares. More importantly, I was humbled by the reminder of the stewardship we have over our earth, and that we seem to be drifting away from the sense of respect and appreciation for our planet that generations before us have had, especially indigenous peoples. The Panel of the Great Black Cow, in the Cave at Lascaux Unicorn, in the Hall of the Bulls As we move more towards what we term scientific, we forget other possibilities. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Aboriginal Rock Art Citing some mind-bending theories, Hunt discusses scientists that have supported the possibility of life beginning actually beneath the surface of what was a violently evolving planet. The primordial incubation of life in the womb of Mother Earth aligns with the comparative mythology of several indigenous peoples. Whether you are Team Core Accretion or Team Disk Instability, the fact that these two theories of how our Earth formed are still "duking it out" adds to an interesting examination of how close what we think we know matches to how much we actually know, and how close mythology walks in the shadow of science.
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  • Flint Bill
    January 1, 1970
    One of the best works of non-fiction I've read in a while. Elegantly written, meticulously researched. Hunt went everywhere for this book! So many discoveries to be made about the world's caves, catacombs, mines, sewers and other holes in the ground. And it's beautifully illustrated. Recommend a hundred times over.
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  • Isa
    January 1, 1970
    Underground is one of the most poetic, breathtaking and ambitious books I have read in a long time. Hunt offers a delightful and unexpected journey, a fantastic expedition full of discoveries, surprising facts and wonderful anecdotes. He is a clever and tenacious explorer, who places himself as an illuminating guide through the most secretive and curious places in a world I never suspected could exist. It is a boundary-breaking tale set between past legends and rituals, secret tunnels alive righ Underground is one of the most poetic, breathtaking and ambitious books I have read in a long time. Hunt offers a delightful and unexpected journey, a fantastic expedition full of discoveries, surprising facts and wonderful anecdotes. He is a clever and tenacious explorer, who places himself as an illuminating guide through the most secretive and curious places in a world I never suspected could exist. It is a boundary-breaking tale set between past legends and rituals, secret tunnels alive right beneath our feet, sacred caves existing since eternity, and incredible scientific expeditions digging though the earth. I can't recommend enough this beautiful and surprising piece of work which I read from cover to cover in a chill of excitement and curiosity. Fantastic!!
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  • R Littlefield
    January 1, 1970
    This non-fiction work starts off as a personal, memoir exploration of the author's preoccupation with subterranean worlds and expands into a much broader investigation, which ultimately explores the very roots of human spirituality. A unique and poetic and illuminating read.
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  • thefourthvine
    January 1, 1970
    And this is why it is inadvisable to take recommendations from Overdrive, I guess, because I'm sure this book would be great for someone, but it was a resounding meh for me.The book is part travelogue, part philosophical meandering, and here's the thing: I am always here for travel stories, but you have to earn your wittering on about the human psyche and the universal urge and blah blah numinous liminal holy blah. You also have to keep the ratio of actual narrative to things you think about whe And this is why it is inadvisable to take recommendations from Overdrive, I guess, because I'm sure this book would be great for someone, but it was a resounding meh for me.The book is part travelogue, part philosophical meandering, and here's the thing: I am always here for travel stories, but you have to earn your wittering on about the human psyche and the universal urge and blah blah numinous liminal holy blah. You also have to keep the ratio of actual narrative to things you think about when you can't sleep at night pretty high. Hunt does not do those things, and so this is not the book for me. The travel bits were interesting enough, but I am going to need to spend a LOT of time reading about spaceships and/or banging to take the taste of Hunt's Beliefs About Caves and the Way All Humans Feel About Them away.
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  • Nicolaus Stengl
    January 1, 1970
    “Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet” is an extraordinarily well-researched book about the cavernous realm just beneath us. Will Hunt is our Virgil, guiding us into and through the subterranean world, and enthusing this tour with erudition, vitality, and an explorer’s yearning to explore our world and our place in it. Will Hunt’s writing masterfully evokes W.G. Sebald; he mixes travelogue, biography, autobiography, history, science, documentary, and literary criticism. An “Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet” is an extraordinarily well-researched book about the cavernous realm just beneath us. Will Hunt is our Virgil, guiding us into and through the subterranean world, and enthusing this tour with erudition, vitality, and an explorer’s yearning to explore our world and our place in it. Will Hunt’s writing masterfully evokes W.G. Sebald; he mixes travelogue, biography, autobiography, history, science, documentary, and literary criticism. And in Underground Hunt’s writing evinces an encyclopedic knowledge and excitement of all things subterranean. Underground succeeds in giving us a panorama of the places below us and these spaces relate to humans throughout history. Anaxagoras said, “The descent to hell is the same from every place.” Underground shows us that all descents into the spaces beneath us, also are descents and explorations into what it means to be human.
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  • Jocelyn
    January 1, 1970
    I requested this book thinking it would be about something entirely different and was pleasantly surprised by what i found. This book travels (literally) into many different types of underground and goes into the historical, religious, and artistic aspects of each. Very engaging writing style and well edited, i thought this book was wonderful. I received a free review copy odd this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    This books combines basically all of my favorite things: travel, exploration, photography, graffiti, archaeology, anthropology....with a splash of philosophy. The author is present in the narrative but not irritatingly so. The book feels personal without feeling autobiographical. I want to read a full book on just about every chapter - the mythology and consistent fascination with the underground throughout human history is truly fascinating.
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  • Ariel
    January 1, 1970
    This book was absolutely fantastic. Hunt is a fantastic writer, who manages to make his trips to these various places both scary and charming, and does an excellent job of conveying the importance and fascination of the history surrounding it all. I learned so many things I didn't know before, and want to spew these facts at everyone I know, which I consider a mark of greatness in nonfiction. Definitely read.Thanks Edelweiss for an e-arc! It gets 5 glowing stars.
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  • Out of the Bex
    January 1, 1970
    A love letter to a lost world.Will Hunt chronicles his search for meaning in the oft undiscovered world beneath our feet with a work that is part travel journal, part anthropological study. Hunt writes of his numerous explorations underground from the catacombs of Paris and the vast tunnels of NYC, to untouched caves in South America and Australia—and everything in between. His thoughtful commentary remarks on the discoveries of some of history’s greatest minds juxtaposed with that of the common A love letter to a lost world.Will Hunt chronicles his search for meaning in the oft undiscovered world beneath our feet with a work that is part travel journal, part anthropological study. Hunt writes of his numerous explorations underground from the catacombs of Paris and the vast tunnels of NYC, to untouched caves in South America and Australia—and everything in between. His thoughtful commentary remarks on the discoveries of some of history’s greatest minds juxtaposed with that of the common traveler turned dirt evangelist, a commentary proving that an enduring and utterly human fascination with the underground world has always existed and will exist inevitably into the future.Perhaps enhanced by the otherworldly circumstances in which these events took place, it’s clear Hunt has a gift for understanding the importance of narrative even in nonfiction. He reports real happenings as if a story and does so in a voice that is at times conversational, at times introspective. A writing style that in itself requires digging into. Each chapter is a thoughtful thirty pages in which Hunt alternates his own stories of adventure and discovery with reverent tales of the explorers who came before him.WHAT WOULD I CHANGEUNDERGROUND is written with a mesmerizing prose designed to incite wonder, but descriptions seem always only half cast, as though the author is not fully willing to share every secret. Perhaps we can’t begrudge these withholdings. After all, adventure belongs solely to the adventurer himself. We, the reader and witness, are allowed only the glimpse we deserve from the safety of our armchairs, lit with reading lamps and a comfortable cup of tea at our side. Some things must be left undiscovered and undocumented, left for our own internal meanderings which I believe the author hopes to inspire by his documentation of a subsurface largely unknown.Two notes on structure stand out as what I could see as potential improvements. Firstly, the sentence structure itself, which acts as a sort of start and stop hap-dash of commas and semicolons thar far exceeds the average. This is due in part to the work’s conversational style, but does require some acclimating. Secondly, the book is punctuated with numerous black and white photos that sometimes lack full description. I would have appreciated the occasional italicized caption with more detail.THE BOTTOM LINEThis startling and thought-provoking work unearths a connection to the depths at once spiritual and biological, a revelation that astounds even the most casual of readers. A must-read for the spare traveller, the amateur archaeologist, the pioneer, the naturalist, the spiritualist, the dreaming anthropologist—but most importantly, the lingering explorer who lies buried in the hidden cavities of every human soul. VERDICT: Buy It
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    https://booksnooks.wordpress.com/2019...Beneath my feet lies a 300 million-year-old petrified rainforest– the second largest in the world. Pictures of it can be seen here. It’s incredible to imagine that this snowy countryside was once a tropical rainforest and that its remains are now buried deep below where I stand today. Scientific proof of what once was. Do you ever wonder about what used to be? Do you wonder about what can’t be seen.Will Hunt’s curiosity about the unknown began the summer h https://booksnooks.wordpress.com/2019...Beneath my feet lies a 300 million-year-old petrified rainforest– the second largest in the world. Pictures of it can be seen here. It’s incredible to imagine that this snowy countryside was once a tropical rainforest and that its remains are now buried deep below where I stand today. Scientific proof of what once was. Do you ever wonder about what used to be? Do you wonder about what can’t be seen.Will Hunt’s curiosity about the unknown began the summer he turned 16, when he discovered an abandoned train tunnel that ran under his neighborhood. It was this experience that eventually launched his passion for urban exploring- a hobby that allowed him to travel all over the world as he sought out abandoned subway platforms (ghost stations), dodged police officers in foreign countries, and encountered “Mole People”. While in the Catacombs of Paris, he even came across an underground library, La Librairie, where urban explorers left books for others to borrow. Oh, my soul!"I saw that we- all of us, the human species- have always felt a quiet pull from the underground, that we are connected to this realm as we are to our own shadow."I must say my favorite bit may have been the story about the “Mole Man of Hackney” who decided to dig a wine cellar in his basement and never stopped. He kept burrowing until his home started to collapse. In his words, “I just have a big basement.”Underground by Will Hunt was fascinating and really well done! If you are a fan of traveling from your couch or, like me, are simply saving your cabbage and working all the side hustles so you can travel in real life, this is the book for you! Hearing about his expeditions energized my sense of adventure and learning the science of the “worlds beneath our feet” caused me to look at things from a whole new perspective. Microbiologists keep finding life deeper and deeper inside the earth and are even discovering pockets of water that are more than a billion years old. In addition, it’s estimated that more than half of the world’s caves are undiscovered! We explore outer space, but there is so much to find here- our oceans and underground landscapes are just as much a mystery.
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  • Tyler Ruggles
    January 1, 1970
    A remarkable book: beautifully written, deeply researched, full of fresh and bold ideas. Bought a copy for everyone in my family!
  • Joyce
    January 1, 1970
    This is the kind of quirky book that I love--lots of history, geography, geology, literature, psychology, religion, all tied to a single idea: underground spaces, natural and man-made, and how they've been used over the millennia. I'd never consider going caving myself--I'm way too claustrophobic--but I enjoy reading about the pleasures and all that is to be found. Hunt recounts his research into these spaces from ancient caves to disused subway tunnels and offers an amazing array of facts (or p This is the kind of quirky book that I love--lots of history, geography, geology, literature, psychology, religion, all tied to a single idea: underground spaces, natural and man-made, and how they've been used over the millennia. I'd never consider going caving myself--I'm way too claustrophobic--but I enjoy reading about the pleasures and all that is to be found. Hunt recounts his research into these spaces from ancient caves to disused subway tunnels and offers an amazing array of facts (or perhaps trivia for fans of that) to be enjoyed. He writes about "pioneers" in the field and shares his encounters with modern underground explorers. The book is fairly brief and moves quite briskly from one adventure to the next, with bits of philosophizing slowing it slightly. Lots of literary references, as any number of books from classics to more recent titles have played with this idea, and he also brings in real people, like Picasso, who were strongly influenced by their own glimpses into these underground worlds. It's thought-provoking, informative, rich in mythology, religion, art, history. The writing is detailed and evocative, the setting often exotic. An earnest yet entertaining read. Hunt's personal journeys underline the universal nature of man's curiosity about hidden places.
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  • Tyler Ruggles
    January 1, 1970
    Remarkable book: beautifully written, deeply researched, full of fresh and bold ideas. Bought a copy for everyone in my family!
  • Lauri
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book, I can't recommend it enough. First of all, it is beautifully written - Will Hunt is an Author, in the truest sense of the word. Second, it is much more than just an exploration of underground spaces around the world - an abandoned train tunnel in my own city of Providence, the catacombs in Paris, prehistoric caves in Europe, sewers and old subway stations in NYC, and whole underground cities in Turkey. It is an examination of what it means to be human. Journeying into the unkn I loved this book, I can't recommend it enough. First of all, it is beautifully written - Will Hunt is an Author, in the truest sense of the word. Second, it is much more than just an exploration of underground spaces around the world - an abandoned train tunnel in my own city of Providence, the catacombs in Paris, prehistoric caves in Europe, sewers and old subway stations in NYC, and whole underground cities in Turkey. It is an examination of what it means to be human. Journeying into the unknown, looking for reasons why so many cultures hold subterranean spaces sacred, sharing the origin stories of humanity from around the world - this book will give you a whole new perspective on the world beneath our feet, as well as the world around you.
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  • Kendra
    January 1, 1970
    Will Hunt writes about being underground so well that I actually experienced a touch of claustrophobia reading this book. It's a terrific read: one very individual lifelong interest in what lies beneath our cities, fields, farms, mountains, and deserts. Hunt goes caving and lives with the dark in numerous places and with complete respect for the cultures into whose caves he ventures.I loved learning about how cave spirits are universal, that the worship of cave deities is common, that caves have Will Hunt writes about being underground so well that I actually experienced a touch of claustrophobia reading this book. It's a terrific read: one very individual lifelong interest in what lies beneath our cities, fields, farms, mountains, and deserts. Hunt goes caving and lives with the dark in numerous places and with complete respect for the cultures into whose caves he ventures.I loved learning about how cave spirits are universal, that the worship of cave deities is common, that caves have preserved far more art and archaeological information than just cave paintings. My only complaint is that the photos desperately need captions. In the Kindle version I read, none of the photos were captioned, so I often wasn't sure what I was looking at. Add those in, and you've got a book everyone who has ever wondered about what's under their feet will love.
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  • Naomi Youngstein
    January 1, 1970
    What an interesting and unusual book! I appreciated the visuals and thought that the chapter on the French bison was particularly compelling.
  • Jypsy
    January 1, 1970
    Underground delves into a subject that most of us never think about. What is going on underground? This book explores that question in fascinating ways. Subways, tunnels, and many places we know nothing about. People live and die underground. It is its own culture. I recommend this book for everyone. It's a good idea to know what is going on underground. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Tessy Consentino
    January 1, 1970
    What a fascinating book!
  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    Falls short in contentThere is so much below us - subways, water pipes, sewage, electrical wires, etc - that have helped create the society we know. Yet the book focuses on the role of the underground in folklore and religion, which was I found only somewhat interesting. The book was also memoir, but this part was also bland. Memoirs can be worked well into stories like this, for example “The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs,” by Steve Brusatte or “Built on Bones,” by Brenna Hassett. Disclosure: I Falls short in contentThere is so much below us - subways, water pipes, sewage, electrical wires, etc - that have helped create the society we know. Yet the book focuses on the role of the underground in folklore and religion, which was I found only somewhat interesting. The book was also memoir, but this part was also bland. Memoirs can be worked well into stories like this, for example “The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs,” by Steve Brusatte or “Built on Bones,” by Brenna Hassett. Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley for review purposes.
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  • Jasen
    January 1, 1970
    I played in the storm drains of my neighborhood as a kid but never had the call of the wild to go as deep as Will does; all over the world to explore dark, dank, deep, and wildly spiritual places. Wonderful read that seems to get stretched a bit in places, is has a good map of underground places to explore in individual lives, geography, literature, myth, spirit, and wonder. Some quotes:“Down any underground hollow, we feel, if not a full tempest of panic, a reflexive tingle of not quite rightne I played in the storm drains of my neighborhood as a kid but never had the call of the wild to go as deep as Will does; all over the world to explore dark, dank, deep, and wildly spiritual places. Wonderful read that seems to get stretched a bit in places, is has a good map of underground places to explore in individual lives, geography, literature, myth, spirit, and wonder. Some quotes:“Down any underground hollow, we feel, if not a full tempest of panic, a reflexive tingle of not quite rightness, as we imagine ceilings and walls closing in.on us.” P.27“ you go underground to die, but also to be reborn, to emerge from the room of the earth; we dread the underground, first refuge in times in danger; conceals priceless treasures, alongside toxic waste; the underground is the realm of repressed memory end of luminous revelation.” P.30“It is no surprise, then, that when we do lose our bearings, we are cast into a primal, bitter-in-the-mouth panic. Many of our most elementary fears—being separated from loved ones, uprooted from home, left out in the dark—are permutations of the dread of being lost. In our fairy tales, it is when the fair maiden becomes disoriented in the gloomy forest that she is accosted by the menacing troll or the hooded crone.” P.152“The surveys and maps that emerged from these early expeditions were often so divergent from reality that some caves are now effectively unrecognizable. Today, we can only read the old reports as small, mysterious poems about imaginary places.” P.159“And yet, they went down again and again. They lowered themselves into uncharted hollows, where no human had set foot before them, where the residents of local villages would not even peer over a rocky ledge for fear of spirits dwelling below.” P.161“Lostness has always been an enigmatic and many-sided state, always riven with unexpected potencies. Across history, all varieties of artists, philosophers, and scientists have celebrated disorientation as an engine of discovery and creativity, both in the sense of straying from a physical path, but also in swerving away from the familiar, turning in to the unknown.” P.163“Something In us has withered. We in the West have become hardened to the world, numb to certain shadowy textures in nature, dulled to what David Abram called the “songs, cries and gestures of the earth.” P. 265“The underground teaches us to respect mystery. We love in a world obsessed with illumination, where we blaze floodlights over every secret, strive to reveal every furrow, to root out every last trace of darkness, as though it were a kind of vermin. In our connection to subterranean space, we ease our suspicion of the unknown, and recognize that not everything should be revealed, not all the time.” P.265
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  • Susan Olesen
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. What a book!Hunt is a cave lover from his youth, and recounts a life of exploring things underground, from traveling the length of Paris through underground warrens and tunnels, the abandoned tunnels and chasms under NYC inhabited by the forgotten. He takes you along on explorations of sacred Aboriginal caves, visits privately owned caves with relics that date back 14,000 years, to the multitude of Mayan caves, where most relics date back to 850 AD, when a massive drought created a panic an Wow. What a book!Hunt is a cave lover from his youth, and recounts a life of exploring things underground, from traveling the length of Paris through underground warrens and tunnels, the abandoned tunnels and chasms under NYC inhabited by the forgotten. He takes you along on explorations of sacred Aboriginal caves, visits privately owned caves with relics that date back 14,000 years, to the multitude of Mayan caves, where most relics date back to 850 AD, when a massive drought created a panic and people made sacrifices to the rain gods in every cave they could find all over the jungle. He follows scientists a mile deep under the Black Hills to look for bacteria that shouldn’t exist – but do in such conditions. He spends a chapter discussing the psychological and physical effects of the absolute blackness in caves, how such sensory deprivation affects the mind, and how it has been used since the beginning of history as a means to “communicate with the Gods.” He discusses how the extreme sensory deprivation can drive people insane, unable to find their way out of caves, or chasing images that their mind has made up (think Injun Joe in Tom Sawyer). He discusses how man, since his first consciousness, has always looked for the divine inside caves – a universal pattern in every culture, on every continent. I found the book difficult to put down. I had to hear more, from incident to incident. Although, to my surprise, I’ve discovered that when pushed I am claustrophobic to a degree, I wish I had the nerve to explore such places myself. I have ridden the subway in NY. I’ve been through Howe Caverns once, but I don’t think I could do it again. It’s not the cave, or the darkness, or the bats, or that really tight spot fat people won’t fit through (I remember that spot, decades later), but that damned long elevator ride to the bottom. Depth is just height upside down, and it’s the height that stops me cold. If you love adventure, if you love culture or anthropology or psychology or caves, this book is an utter delight on every page.
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  • Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    Who woulda thunk that you'd get a lesson on Native American origin mythology and the latest theory of evolution from an astrophysicist who keeps up with microbiology while being taken on a virtual tour of an abandoned gold mine?Who woulda expected to learn about placating the old Mondongs by walking the red marlu's songline to the Wilgie Mia? And also learn the importance of ochre?Who woulda figured that Will Hunt would get lost in the Parisian catacombs with two lovely women and write about it Who woulda thunk that you'd get a lesson on Native American origin mythology and the latest theory of evolution from an astrophysicist who keeps up with microbiology while being taken on a virtual tour of an abandoned gold mine?Who woulda expected to learn about placating the old Mondongs by walking the red marlu's songline to the Wilgie Mia? And also learn the importance of ochre?Who woulda figured that Will Hunt would get lost in the Parisian catacombs with two lovely women and write about it in such as way to make you feel panicky? He also explains exactly why and how the fear of being lost in the dark is so overwhelming.I really enjoyed this book. Hunt not only explores the actual underground spaces from New York to Australia and Paris to Mexico, but extends his exploration to how underground space has influenced the human psyche and behavior from the beginning. He talks about the psychology of being underground, the role underground spaces play in various religious beliefs around the world and even how life may have evolved deep underground rather than in a the hot soup at the surface.Do yourself a favor. Pick this book up. It's a highly entertaining and quick read.
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  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    I have a lifelong fascination with underground places (I blame Tolkien and Infocom games), so I was happy to find this well-written, thoughtful book. It's not so much a history as an exploration of how underground places function as cultural symbols. As someone who read and writes in the fantasy genre, I really enjoyed thinking about the anthropological and mythic dimensions of our relationships with built and natural landscapes.Also, I had the song from Labyrinth in my head the whole time I was I have a lifelong fascination with underground places (I blame Tolkien and Infocom games), so I was happy to find this well-written, thoughtful book. It's not so much a history as an exploration of how underground places function as cultural symbols. As someone who read and writes in the fantasy genre, I really enjoyed thinking about the anthropological and mythic dimensions of our relationships with built and natural landscapes.Also, I had the song from Labyrinth in my head the whole time I was reading, but that's neither here nor there.
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  • Brian
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book. The subject matter involved something I've never really considered: the relationship between humans and going underground. Each chapter was a separate "case study" interwoven with the author's own experiences. Though the book contains some photographs, I found myself looking up many different structures, artwork, human remains, that the author discussed. There's a lot of interesting info in this book I had never heard of before. The writing altered between facts, prose, and po I loved this book. The subject matter involved something I've never really considered: the relationship between humans and going underground. Each chapter was a separate "case study" interwoven with the author's own experiences. Though the book contains some photographs, I found myself looking up many different structures, artwork, human remains, that the author discussed. There's a lot of interesting info in this book I had never heard of before. The writing altered between facts, prose, and poetry. You could feel how much the author cared for the experiences he described. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend. ...I really want to go explore some caves.
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  • Suz deMello
    January 1, 1970
    Well written, brilliant, unusualI've gotten older and find myself reading more non-fiction. I don't know where I found this particular book, but I'm very glad I did. Although I'm frightened of caves, I'm extremely interested in catacombs. This book discusses the author's experiences in caves, catacombs, sewers, subway tunnels ... Underground spaces, and the fascination we have for them are the subject of this book and the obsession of this writer. He finds inspiration in the deep places of the E Well written, brilliant, unusualI've gotten older and find myself reading more non-fiction. I don't know where I found this particular book, but I'm very glad I did. Although I'm frightened of caves, I'm extremely interested in catacombs. This book discusses the author's experiences in caves, catacombs, sewers, subway tunnels ... Underground spaces, and the fascination we have for them are the subject of this book and the obsession of this writer. He finds inspiration in the deep places of the Earth, finding them areas of holiness and reverence. It's remarkably interesting and highly recommended!
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  • Shawn
    January 1, 1970
    a very interesting book, full of stories about religeous experiences and related mysticism involving diving down underground. alot of cool descriptions of underground cities both of the Paris catacombs and NYC subway. its fun to know that the same urge that lead ancient men deep underground to create devotional art is still alive in the form of people doing graffiti in the secret crevices of new york city. I love new york city , wish I has climbed to random places more,
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