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Publisher's Summary

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 16 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 the sacred caves, catacombs, and tombs, from bunkers to ancient underground cities in more than 20 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, repelled and captivated us through the ages.

In a narrative spanning continents and epochs, Hunt follows a cast of subterranea-philes 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 sacred mine in the Australian outback, follows a ghostlike graffiti artist writing stories in the subway tunnels of New York, 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, including 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.

Advance praise for Underground:

“An unusual and intriguing travel book.... As [Will] Hunt reveals the scientific, historic, literary, psychological, spiritual, and metaphorical qualities of his exploration, it begins to seem less idiosyncratic than universal, a pull that has persisted throughout civilization and a mystery that has yet to be solved. The underground may represent hell to some, but it has also provided spiritual solace for centuries.... A vivid illumination of the dark and an effective evocation of its profound mystery.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) 

©2019 Will Hunt (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Provocative and satisfying.... A book can often have its greatest impact by rethinking familiar terrain, forcing readers to reconsider their entrenched preconceptions. Will Hunt taps in to our deep fascination with what lies beneath the surface of things by exploring, quite literally, what's going on beneath the surface.... By the end of your excursion through Underground, you may never look at a hole in the ground in quite the same way again.” (New York Times Book Review

“Dynamic and engaging...[Hunt’s] clear excitement about this information is contagious.... Underground is a thoughtful, inquisitive book. Hunt approaches the subject with an unusual dedication and open-mindedness that is difficult to resist.... These traits, alongside the striking photography that appears throughout the book, makes Hunt's debut an admirable and successful one.” (NPR)  

“As Hunt’s journey progresses, you get the sense these forays are about more than just an adrenaline rush. What Hunt is really chasing, through the muck and darkness and stench and clammy cold, is a story of shared humanity.” (Vice)

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What listeners say about Underground

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  • Overall
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An interesting unearthing of some awesome spaces

I like the way Will’s easy smooth presentation of his findings and passion for underground places carries the reader along. This made it clear, to someone like myself who has little experience or studies in the depths of the earths natural and man made dwellings. I would recommend it to everyone with a curiosity for underground places, who wants to more than just scratch the surface for an unintimidated look at the history, people, and locations of earth’s underground spaces.

3 people found this helpful

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An exceptionally told story

About five minutes in, the author is talking about an underground tunnel he explored as a boy. He finds a pile of buckets deep in the tunnel. Okay, that's odd. One of hundreds of odd details throughout the book. The author/narrator is excellent at both tasks, tying in lots of interesting facts with a lot of interesting experiences. I was reminded of a similar audiobook, The 99% Invisible City.

Dreamy. In some way, this seems like a dream of being underground. I've now listened to it three times, it's a great work.

2 people found this helpful

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Not what I expected,

because there is much more to know about the ancient to modern cult of the underground.

2 people found this helpful

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Wonderful!

Thought I was getting into a book about subways and bunkers, instead got a very spiritual journey into our ideas of the underworld!

Well worth the credit!

Hope to see more from this author!

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GREAT!!!

I want more.
Very thorough, decisive in-depth information about the underworld life.
I really enjoyed your book.

Thank you, me Mitch.

—P.S. I would love to meet-up somewhere and do a cave climb with you.
I have done a few, that are almost incomprehensible.

1 person found this helpful

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Fine storytelling

This is an excellent piece of archeological travel writing. It is a deep dive into all things underneath us and we'll done at that. The author does a wonderful job narrating the story, which hops from place to place around the world, focusing loosely on why the underground is so important to people throughout time. Very much a popular rather than scholarly piece, Hunt cites any sources he's used and encourages the reader to go deeper themselves. First heard this recommended on NPR and enjoyed it as an audiobook.

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exceptional

Will Hunt, your dedication to create this master stroke has me reeling. thank you for your demonstration of dedication to task. I know exploring and sifting through this data must have taken great energy.
I'll put my portion to good use.

1 person found this helpful

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So Good That I Teared Up at the Last Line

This book satisfied my expectations and then went way beyond them. It starts with science and cool facts and then goes, well, deeper. I cannot recommend this book enough. The last sentence was so moving I noticed tears in my eyes.

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Spellbinding.

Hunt's writing and narration are deeply poetic, and help to inspire a sense of awe, and a greater appreciation for things unknown.

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Unexpected

This book is much more a spiritual reflection on underground life throughout history. Cover and marketing material suggests a more technical and modern perspective which I would have preferred. Also, I find that authors rarely are the best narrators of their work — and this reading is consistent with that view.