The Deep Dark: Disaster and Redemption in America's Richest Silver Mine (Paperback)
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“A vividly detailed, heartbreaking tale about a dark, alien place, the people who loved working there and a town that has never been the same. He brings to life the hot, dirty, treasure-hunt environment where danger was a miner's heroin." —Seattle Times
“Investigation at its best.” —Tucson Citizen
On May 2, 1972, 174 miners entered Sunshine Mine in Kellogg, Idaho, on their daily quest for silver. From his office window, safety engineer Bob Launhardt could see the air shafts that fed fresh air into the mine, which was more than a mile below the surface. Sunshine was a fireproof hardrock mine, full of nothing but cold, dripping wet stone. There were many safety concerns, but fire wasn’t one of them. So when thick black smoke began pouring from one of the air shafts, Launhardt was as amazed as he was struck with fear.
When the alarm sounded, less than half of the dayshift was able to return to the surface. The others were too deep in the mine to escape. Scores of miners died almost immediately, but in one of the deepest corners of the mine, Ron Flory and Tom Wilkinson were left alone and in total darkness, surviving off a trickle of fresh air from a borehole. The miners’ families waited and prayed, while Launhardt refused to give up the search until he could be sure that no one was left underground.
In The Deep Dark, Gregg Olsen looks beyond an intensely suspenseful story of the rescue and into the wounded heart of Kellogg, a quintessential company town that has never recovered from its loss.
About the Author
Gregg Olsen is the author of seven nonfiction books, including the New York Times bestseller Abandoned Prayers. A journalist and investigative author for more than two decades, Olsen has received numerous awards and much critical acclaim for his writing. The Seattle native now lives in rural Washington state with his wife, twin daughters, cat, and six chickens.
"Powerful and haunting" —Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Gregg Olsen is the perfect guide as he leads the reader down into a whole new world underground, with its own lore, language, and laws. The Deep Dark is as gripping and necessary as true-life drama gets.”—Stewart O’Nan, author of The Circus Fire
“Compellingly told, honestly written, The Deep Dark is a story that resonates and lingers, long after the final page is read. In addition to being a gripping account of an American tragedy, it is a brutal, enlightening, bone-chilling glimpse into the underground of the nation’s mining industry. Gregg Olsen skillfully captures the details of Sunshine Mine, its ill-fated miners, the friends and family left behind, and the disaster itself with the intimacy of an insider, making you feel the smoke, the heat, the confinement, and, ultimately, the terror of that May day in 1972. It is a story at once horrific and poignant, wholly absorbing and extraordinarily moving.” —Jennifer Niven, author of The Ice Master
“In the tradition of Young Men and Fire, The Deep Dark is an exceptional, haunting documentary. Like an epic folk song, it crackles with the language of rough men working—and dying—in unspeakable ways and pays tribute to a community that might otherwise be bleached from our memories. This book does what all superior journalism should do: it unearths an important story and tells it with great feeling.” —McKay Jenkins, author of The White Death
“Gregg Olsen’ s narrative is so riveting I had to keep reminding myself that this is a nonfiction page-turner, not a suspense novel. The grit, the darkness, the stifling air and choking smoke, the fear of being trapped deep underground, the tender camaraderie between the toughest of men—I experienced all of them reading this book.” —Stephen Puleo, author of Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919
“Olsen presents the extraordinary story of the Sunshine Mine disaster in gripping, heartrending prose. In Olsen’s telling, we come to see that the story is not merely a deadly disaster but rather a tale of the uncommon courage, perseverance, and heroism of everyday people.” —Edward T. O’Donnell, author of Ship Ablaze: The Tragedy of the Steamboat General Slocum
“Gregg Olsen has presented a well-researched, graphic account of the worst underground fire in a hardrock mine in American history. When the ’Shine resumed underground operations in December 1972, I hired out as a replacement for one of the guys who died in the fire. . . . I can tell you The Deep Dark is as real as it gets. I actually found myself short of breath as I read.” —Jerry Dolph, author of Fire in the Hole: The Untold Story of Hardrock Miners
"Spellbinding." —Daily Olympian
"Harrowing." —Bellingham Herald
"A spectacluar piece of journalism." —Missoulian
"An exciting, vital, memorable book." —Salem Statesman Journal
"Insightful and a powerful narrative." —Vancouver Columbian