A HUMAN HISTORY OF THE WORLDS BENEATH OUR FEET
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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.
“A mesmerizingly fascinating tale . . .”—Michael Finkel, New York Times bestselling author of The Stranger in the Woods
“Few books have blown my mind so totally, and so often. There are echoes of Sebald, Calvino, and Herzog in his elegant and enigmatic voice, but also real warmth and humor. . . ." —Robert Moor, New York Times bestselling author of On Trails
“Genuinely exciting . . . beautifully written . . . has the narrative drive of adventure stories.”—The Guardian
“Will Hunt is a generous and literate mole man, beckoning us always to look lower.”—Ted Conover, author of Newjack
“. . . 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.”—Steve Rinella, author of MeatEater and American Buffalo
“Will Hunt explores the subterranean world in all of its historic and psychological grandeur.”—Scott Carney, New York Times bestselling author of What Doesn’t Kill Us
“Will Hunt is an irresistible guide”—Justin Davidson, author of Magnetic City and architecture critic of New York
“Underground is a revelation”—John Vaillant, author of The Tiger
Will Hunt on what he's learned from exploring the subterranean world
'Underground' Digs Up The Secrets Of Hidden Communities Around The World
Social Spelunking With Will Hunt
The Secret Lives of People Obsessed with Going Deep Underground
Stories of the Subterranean
Reasons to Love New York - Freedom Tunnel
Into the Earth: the mysteries and meanings of underground spaces
What lies beneath: the art, people, and emotion of the underground
Underground explorers convert the city's forgotten Soviet bunkers into modern shelters
Retracing an ancient Maya pilgrimage in the jungle of the Yucatán
Deciphering Cherokee ritual imagery deep in the caves of the American South
"Getting Lost Makes the Brain Go Haywire" The Atlantic
The strange, unexpected power of being lost
The neuroscience of darkness
A survey of the world's subterranean places (extract from the book)
The surprising history of medieval sewers
Essay for a contemporary art show curated by Zhivago Duncan
Why did the ancient Maya take their sacrificial rites underground?
One Family hoped their new home might bring a fresh start. But the house held secrets that would cause them years of heartache.
A three-day trek from one edge of Paris to the other – underground the whole way.
"Damned Spot" Audible Originals
Four-part audio documentary about places where tragedies have occurred.
Episode 4 - Jasper, Texas
A search for a lost river flowing beneath Manhattan.
On ants and the underground cities of Cappadocia.
"submerged ruins" The american reADER
On artist Ellie Ga.
Ancient rock paintings near the Rio Grande contain hidden messages about a mysterious 4,000-year-old religion. Now one archaeologist has learned to read them.
Seismic snapshots expose Earth's inner-life.
Will's writing, photography, and audio storytelling have appeared in The New Yorker, The Economist, The Atlantic Monthly, The Atavist, The Guardian, The Paris Review Daily, Audible Originals, and Outside, among other places. He has received 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 serves as a visiting scholar at the NYU Institute for Public Knowledge and teaches creative writing at Columbia University. UNDERGROUND is his first book.