Underground

A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet
By: Will Hunt
Narrated by: Will Hunt
Length: 6 hrs and 41 mins
4.2 out of 5 stars (105 ratings)

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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

“Genuinely exciting... beautifully written... [a] winningly obsessive history of our relationship with underground places [that has] the narrative drive of adventure stories.” (The Guardian)

“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

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What listeners say about Underground

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

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.

1 person found this helpful

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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.