Last Man Out: The Story of the Springhill Mine Disaster

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9780156029575: Last Man Out: The Story of the Springhill Mine Disaster
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It's hard to imagine a scenario more terrifying than being trapped in a gaseous, crumbling coal mine two miles beneath the earth's surface in utter darkness, without food or water, while your gravely injured colleagues howl in agony all around you. This is the premise of author Melissa Fay Greene's engrossing book, Last Man Out, which recreates the Springhill, Nova Scotia mine disaster of 1958. Of the 174 men who entered the mine on the afternoon shift of October 23, 74 never left. Last Man Out is the story of two small groups among the 99 survivors who lasted more than a week in the bowels of the deepest coal mine in the world after its sudden collapse. By relying (among other things) on survivor interviews conducted at the time by two Nova Scotia professors, Greene places the reader in the devastated shafts with the men. "Deep underground, darkness and silence ruled for an unknown length of time," writes the author, "The narrow layers of air swarmed with coal dust as if the flying particles and specks of coal were the only things in the universe, like black, charred, stirred-up matter in the eons before Creation. In the swirling blackness, the men's faces stung as if in a sandstorm. Some unconscious, some dying, they were zinged and pelted where they lay by a thousand small meteorites of coal." We hear their conversations--all lyrical Maritimer lilt--and watch as they struggle to free those trapped, and to free themselves. Greene also gives us their families, working class folks just barely hanging on and facing utter ruin at the loss of the sole breadwinner. And we hear from many of the 137 reporters from around the world--plus accidental participants such as comedian Shecky Green--who gather at the site to bring the tragic story home. Greene is successful not only in capturing the misery of the trapped men but also in giving context to the horrifying event. Educated men don't descend the mines to make a living; men with no alternatives do. Their strength and dignity in the face day-to-day adversity makes Last Man Out a thoroughly humbling read. --Kim Hughes, Amazon.ca

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Book Description Harcourt, Inc., New York, 2004. Softcover. Book Condition: New. First Harvest Edition. 342 pages. Softcover. New Book. HISTORY. The amazing story of how a lucky, brave band of men survived the worst mining accident of the century. In minute-by-minute detail, the author reconstructs the lives of these nineteen miners, as well as the hopes and fears of their families waiting above ground. (Key Words: History, Mining, Melissa Fay Greene, Mining Accidents, Disasters, Safety). book. Bookseller Inventory # 36585X1

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