A tuna sandwhich, please

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  • Blind Descent

  • The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth
  • By: James Tabor
  • Narrated by: Don Leslie
  • Length: 9 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 295
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 186
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 186

Blind Descent explores both the brightest and darkest aspects of the timeless human urge to discover—to be first. It is also a thrilling epic about a pursuit that makes even extreme mountaineering and ocean exploration pale by comparison.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing Courage!!

  • By RGH on 11-07-10

Interesting subject, boring thesis and themes

3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-03-15

What could James Tabor have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

1) Tabor sets up his story with the assertion that people historically have mourned the loss of exploration with each great discovery. After every accomplishment (crossing the Atlantic, stepping on the moon, etc.), people have thought that it is the end of exploration. Then Tabor says, “No! There is another! Finding the deepest cave is just as big a deal!” That’s fine with me—that seems worthy of being important. However, Tabor calls the discovery of the deepest cave “the LAST great discovery” many, many times. By saying this, he is guilty of doing exactly the thing that he so boldly ridiculed! Talk about undermining his own thesis!

2) One of Tabor’s major themes is that caving is an equal among other kinds of exploration that have more recognition. Tabor tirelessly references other adventures: climbing Everest, reaching the South Pole, trying to reach the South Pole (Shackleton), walking on the moon, and deep sea diving. Basically, the book goes something like this:

“Caves are uninhabitable environments, just like Everest…You can die in a cave, just like you can die on a mountain…Caving is exploration, just like Columbus did….Caving is difficult, just like Everest, no wait, it’s more difficult than Everest…Caves are just as remote as the moon…Diving in caves is more dangerous that diving in open water…Caving is like climbing an 8000m mountain in reverse…Cave rescues are more difficult than mountain rescues…blah, blah, blah.”

Tabor’s support for his theme of the danger and greatness of caving is simply analogy after analogy. After the first few mentions of mountaineering, I started to yawn. Can't he let caving stand on it's own? He needs to quit using analogies and just to a better job of describing the subject on hand. Tabor was probably inspired by tales like “Into Thin Air” and “Endurance”, but his own story pales in comparison. Krakouer and Lansing had me on the edge of my seat and nearly crying when they told stories that were suspenseful, scary, and beautiful. The heroes in these stories were people that I marveled at. Tabor’s CONSTANT references to these other types of exploration were simply a crutch that he hoped would make his story equally impressive. The descriptions of caves were dull and the human elements were uninteresting. For example, one of Stone’s girlfriends made pancakes once, and I was like “Oh…so? Who cares if she made pancakes?”; that’s what the entire book was like.

3) Why did Tabor keep calling this thing a race? The competition between was between two different caves. It didn’t matter at all which explorers finished first, one cave was deeper. It never was a race.

4) Okay, I’ve criticized Tabor’s writing skills enough. This was my first book about caving. I looked at some pictures of Krubera online and it looks terrifying and awesome! The people who explore supercaves must be very brave and thoughtful. I would love to learn more from an author who is a stronger writer.

Any additional comments?

Sorry for all the complaining, but I didn't enjoy it much.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful