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Today we review Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth by James M. Tabor.
I don’t know about you, but the last time I was in a cave was as a young teenager. One of those harmless tours, taken with my parents and brother as part of a family vacation. I clearly remember being terrified, mostly by the centipedes that appeared on the wet walls at what seemed like every turn, and could not WAIT for the tour to be over.
So the thought of voluntarily, no enthusiastically, exploring a cave so unpredictable that one might need to scuba dive through tunnels in utter darkness, um… NEVER going to happen.
But I would happily read about it.
We love books that provide a glimpse into a world we know nothing about, and most of us would never willingly experience. Adventure books like this one cut across gender, physical ability and daily experience. Whether a reader is physically adventurous or not themselves is immaterial.
Before we get to the review, I wanted to share a link to an NPR story about the book. Do click over, if only to see the incredible photograph at the top of the article.
TABOR, James M. Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth. 304p. Random. 2010. Tr $26. ISBN 978-1400067671. LC 2009033942.
Adult/High School–To be the first atop a mountain is to scale a challenge that can be seen. To be the first to explore a cave is to sink into the invisible world of harrowing darkness. Blind Descent is the story of two expeditions–one in Mexico and one in the Republic of Georgia–seeking to claim discovery of the deepest cave on Earth. The leaders of each expedition and their crews spend years in hellish subterranean conditions measuring progress in fitful increments until technological advances in their equipment take them to previously impossible depths. Tabor provides a detailed look at the sport and its physical and psychological dangers while examining the advances of supercave exploration that finally established the 2004 record for cave depth, 6,824 feet. Teens with an interest in extreme sports, adventure, and daring exploration will enjoy this book. Those with a special interest in spelunking, climbing, or diving will find satisfying technical details about supercave exploration and the equipment, experience, and dedication it requires. They will also encounter the uniquely willful personalities of contemporary explorers obsessed with the hellish ambition of descending to the previously uncharted depths of the Earth.–John Sexton, Westchester Library System, NY
Filed under: Nonfiction
About Angela Carstensen
Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.
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