'A mesmerizingly fascinating tale, one astonishing adventure after another. I could not stop reading this beautifully written book.' Michael Finkel, author of The Stranger in the Woods 'A unique history of a culturally and scientifically important netherworld most people barely know exists.' Booklist 'An unusual and intriguing travel book ... A vivid illumination of the dark and an effective evocation of its profound mystery.'Kirkus (starred review)
Will Hunt is an urban adventurer who has explored caves and catacombs, subway systems, and long abandoned, ghostly mines: all varieties of holes in the ground. He's tracked down people who, for one reason or another, have shared his underground fixation: each an incarnation of Hermes, who could see and touch the underworld in ways others could not.
Underground is a place of overlapping, often contradictory associations: it is a space that evokes death and burial even as it is a place of origins; it fills us with primordial dread, even as we seek refuge there in times of strife; we dig in search of riches and we bury our most toxic waste. It is a spawning ground for political insurgence and where governments hide their most sensitive secrets. We excavate in search of scientific truth even as it is the ultimate wellspring of mythology, magic, and spirits. Hunt explores Paris underground, the famous network of underground dwellings in Turkey and the hallowed caves of Australian outback; he spelunks 8,000 feet into abandoned mines in South Dakota with NASA scientists.
This is an idiosyncratic, fascinating narrative history that changes our relationship to and our understanding of the world that lies beneath our feet.
Will Hunt's writing, photography and audio storytelling have appeared in The Economist, The Paris Review, Discover, Audible Originals,and Outside, among other places. A recipient of grants and fellowships from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, and The Macdowell Colony, he is currently a visiting scholar at the NYU Institute for Public Knowledge. Underground is his first book.
'Hunt’s rich descriptions of dark and forbidden subterranean landscapes will raise goose bumps while offering a unique history of a culturally and scientifically important netherworld most people barely know exists.'
'An unusual and intriguing travel book, into the world beneath the world we know ... As 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 (Starred Review)
'Urban explorer Hunt serves as a genial guide to the clandestine communities, unexpected lives, and hidden histories existing in subterranean realms. … [Hunt] is always entertaining, and this brisk work, rife with intriguing characters and little-known traditions and communities, will leave many readers wanting to dig deeper into the worlds hiding beneath their feet.'
– Publishers Weekly
'What is it about that unseen world beneath our feet that both calls to us and repels us at the same time? Are there secrets just beyond a rusted No Trespassing sign? Why do some of us seek to unseal the catacombs of the dead? In Underground Will Hunt explores the subterranean world in all of its historic and psychological grandeur. This tour de force just might make you want to pull on a pair of rubber boots and strap on a headlamp to get a peek at the places we've forgotten.'
– Scott Carney, author of New York Times bestseller What Doesn't Kill Us
'Few books have blown my mind so totally, and so often. In Will Hunt's nimble hands, excursion becomes inversion, and the darkness turns luminous. There are echoes of Sebald, Calvino, and Herzog in his elegant and enigmatic voice, but also real warmth and humor. An intrepid—but far from fearless—journey, both theoretically and terrestrially.'
– Robert Moor, New York Times best-selling author of On Trails
'Underground is, literally, a revelation. Hunt, a fearless, eloquent and truly insightful guide, takes us underground, around the world, from guerrilla art galleries, to ancient sacred chambers, to lost worlds inhabited by lost souls. In so doing, Hunt initiates us into a suite of subterranean mysteries that span geography, culture and time, awakening the dormant, but profound allure the underworld holds for us and, as he so persuasively demonstrates, for all of humankind.'
– John Vaillant, author of international bestseller The Tiger
'Will Hunt has pulled off a stunning feat of reportorial magic with this book. He has taken what may be our worst fear—being underground, where many of us will spend eternity—and transformed it into a mesmerizingly fascinating tale, one astonishing adventure after another. I could not stop reading this beautifully written book.'
– Michael Finkel, author of The Stranger in the Woods
'As a sunlight-craving claustrophobe, I’m not normally drawn to sewers or mine shafts plunged a mile into the earth, but Will Hunt is an irresistible guide. I followed Underground’s global tour of subterranean cultures with astonishment and joy, happy to meet a cast of cataphiles, compulsive diggers, ochre priests, spelunkers, and various seekers of the dark. I will never look at a hole in the ground in quite the same way again.'
– Justin Davidson, author of Magnetic City and architecture critic of NYMag
'Will Hunt’s Underground left me, for days, wanting to go there—down, down, down, into the moisture and the mystery. It succeeds as reportage, as memoir, as historical survey and philosophical reflection. Hunt is a generous and literate moleman, beckoning us always to look lower.'
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