reading recommendation: 33 Men

33 Men: Inside the Miraculous Survival and Dramatic Rescue of the Chilean Miners

It's old news that I'm drawn toward historical fiction and non-fiction more than other genres. This true story of the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for over two months was one I couldn't stop listening to. (I checked out the audiobook from my library and listened to it as I sat at my computer at work, did the dishes at home, and even made dinner. I just had to find out how many of the miners survived and how, and the way it was written was fascinating!) I remember finishing the audiobook and feeling a little bit of shame mixed with embarrassment as I realized just how oblivious I was, and usually am, to the suffering of others and wanting to remedy that the best I could.

I found it interesting to hear about the steps taken during those two months--for better or for worse--to keep the men physically, mentally, and emotionally stable, and equally interesting to read about Chile's response to the incident. I appreciated the viewpoints of the miners' family and friends as they waited for the drills to do their jobs and ultimately save all 33 men, and walked away with a greater understanding of how truly miraculous their rescue was. 

Goodreads summary:
On August 5, 2010, at the San José mine in northern Chile, 33 men were entombed 2,300 feet below the earth when a slab of rock the size of a skyscraper sheared off the mountain and sealed shut their only access to the surface. The miners were discovered alive 17 days later, and for the next seven weeks after that discovery, as rescuers sought to bring them to the surface, the eyes of the world shifted to this previously obscure corner of South America. More than 2,000 journalists and reporters flooded in to cover the drama. But despite worldwide interest, the media rarely delved to either the front lines of the rescue or below the surface of the tragedy. Locked behind police lines, most reporters were reduced to months of interviewing family members and politicians. However, award-winning journalist Jonathan Franklin was the exception.

The print journalist with the most extensive access and contacts, Franklin reported, recorded, and filmed from the front row of the operation as it unfolded and, as a result, was afforded unprecedented and unique access to the miners and the rescuers. Now, for the first time ever, he tells their full story in 33 Men: Inside the Miraculous Survival and Dramatic Rescue of the Chilean Miners

Franklin's status as a "local"--he has lived in Chile for 16 years, speaks fluent Spanish, and has six daughters with his Chilean wife--and his 25 years' experience as an investigative reporter provided him access other journalists could only dream of. For almost six weeks he lived on the hillside that served as the rescue operation's nerve center. He sat in on planning meetings, pored over government documents, and recorded sessions between the miners and the psychologists charged with looking after their mental health. He conducted interviews with miners' families, rescue workers, engineers, drill operators, and many others, including President Piñera of Chile. Even before the miners were rescued, while they were still underground, Franklin interviewed them via a makeshift phone that connected them to the surface. "I sat in this container where you could pick up a phone, dial eleven, and the phone would ring down below," says Franklin, who developed such a bond of trust with the miners that they described in great detail the dramatic first 17 days of their confinement. Cut off from the outside...

1 comment

  1. I really want to see the upcoming movie that this event is based on. Great review!