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An account of several expeditions that set out to explore some truly massive cave systems, and their attempts to set a new record for the deepest known cave. It's an absolutely fascinating topic, but I found the book itself only just OK, in large part because it often seems far more interested in the cavers than in the caves. Early on, Tabor quotes one of the expedition leaders as taking exception when a reporter asks him about his "adventure," insisting instead that what he does is exploration with the goal of bringing back new data. But Tabor himself largely disregards this point, focusing mostly on the adventure aspects and the personalities involved. There's very little here about cave science, and, surprisingly, very little in the way of real description of these caves until very late in the book, except for their record-setting dimensions and the obstacles they present. Some of the stories here are kind of exciting, but I can't help but think that the whole thing would have been a lot more effective with more context and less gossip. And possibly less of a sensationalistic emphasis on the (very real) deaths and injuries that occurred on these expeditions. Tabor makes a habit of starting each section with a description of the worst accident(s) on each expedition, only then going back to fill in the story from the beginning. I know this is a very common technique in non-fiction these days, but if not handled well, it can come across as manipulative, even exploitative, and I think it does a little bit here. Mind you, I have to admit to a degree of bias against Tabor's writing, as he managed to get off on the wrong foot with me from the very first sentence on the very first page. The sentence in question being, "As the fifteenth century began, we believed, absolutely, that the earth was flat." Now, OK, he's really just trying to make some rhetorical point about exploration there, but the incredible historical ignorance of that statement inevitably makes me wonder what else he's ignorant about and hasn't bothered to fact-check, and that made the rest of the book far less engaging for me than it should have been.more
I like to do a little "armchair" adventuring once in a while. Decided to try out some supercave exploring. Wow, had several moments of claustrophobia just reading it. Still not sure whether to be impressed or horrified at what these cave explorers put themselves through. Though a bit dry and technical at times still a nice solid readmore
Total darkness is scary, or at the very least unsettling. Now add arduous climbing and repelling, scuba diving in pitch-black sumps, slippery surfaces, hypothermia, deafening waterfalls, claustrophobia and mind-numbing fear. Not only is this hilarity measured in hours, but also in days and sometimes weeks. Welcome to deep cave exploration. Sounds like a blast, huh?This book follows an American named Bill Stone, on his lifelong mission to find the world’s deepest cave in Mexico and then later in the story a Soviet explorer named Alexander Klimchouk, obsessed with finding his own deep cave in Russia.This is an exciting, true-life adventure. After reading Krakauer’s "Into Thin Air", I thought extreme mountain-climbing was the most dangerous thrill, but now I think extreme deep-caving takes that coveted title. I like the outdoors, but I prefer experiencing this insanity from my own comfortable armchair.more
Tabor tells two stories that share a common goal: find the world's deepest cave. The story begins with Bill Stone, an American speleologist who commits his life to establishing a cave system in Mexico as the deepest cave in the world. Stone's story focuses on the struggles of leading the expeditions, the dangers of exploring supercaves, and the personal turmoil his own obsessions create. The second half of the story discusses Alexander Klimchouk's explorations in a supercave found in the Republic of Georgia. Klimchouk's exploration focuses less on personal drama and more on the drama of the exploration. Together both stories come together to form a very thrilling, extraordinary looking into the earth and into the psychology of discovery.more
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