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Last Man Out: The Story of the Springhill Mine Disasterby Melissa Fay Greene
Synopses & Reviews
One evening in late October 1958, the deepest coal mine in North America "bumped" — its rock floors heaved up and smashed into rock ceilings. Most of the men on the shift perished. But nineteen men were trapped alive a mile below the earth's surface, struggling to survive without food, water, light, or fresh air. Almost a week passed without rescue. Hopes of finding life dwindled; then a miracle happened: Rescuers stumbled across a broken pipe that led to the cave of survivors.
In the media circus that followed, the survivors' endurance was mythologized and twisted, and the state of Georgia's tourism ploy — inviting the survivors to recuperate on a Georgia beach — turned racist and pitted the miners against each other. Using long-lost stories and interviews with survivors, Greene has reconstructed an extraordinary drama of their struggle and miraculous rescue.
"[A] most vivid account of horror and heroism, of exemplary human behavior under the most adverse circumstances." Chicago Tribune
"With every book, Greene further refines her art of rich, literary nonfiction. And she continues to find these perfect stories ..." Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Through interviews with survivors, the autobiography of the local doctor, and, most fascinatingly, a study of survival strategies conducted after the disaster, the award-winning Greene... captures the gloom in all its manifestations.... A strikingly told story." Kirkus Reviews
"A superb study of the human condition in extremis." BookPage
"By combining interviews with her own vivid prose and high sensitivity to human anguish, Greene has created a book that is... deep, moving and timeless." The Toronto Globe and Mail
"A nail-biting account... In a series of devastating, finely drawn portraits, Green deeply examines the lives of her characters... the sturdy reticence of men too strong to admit they may be doomed. Bottom line: A tragic triumph." People
About the Author
Melissa Fay Greene's books, Praying for Sheetrock and The Temple Bombing, were National Book Award finalists. Greene has written for the New Yorker, Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and Life. She lives in Atlanta.
Table of Contents
The Thunder of Baritones
A World without Sun
Home of the Long Tides
"What Am I Doing Here? What Am I Doing Here?"
"When a Miner Says It's Bad, Look Out"
A Dark Chaos
"If There Are Boys Alive, They'll Be Expecting Us"
"Oh Dear, Oh Dear, I Would Help You if You Was Caught"
In Black, White, and Silver
"There Has Got to Be a Way Out, Boys!"
No Hope Whatsoever
"It's Good Day to Him,I Reckon."
When Sleep and Waking Feel the Same
"What on Earth Will I Do without Him?"
The Lost Lovely Sky
A Malevolent Factory
"Ruther've Done Chicken Farming"
"You Know He's Bad People, but You Can't Help But Like Him"
Day-Glo on Velvet
Good Night, Sweetheart
Could a Mouse Escape?
Gas Like a Night Nurse
A Particle of Light
Last Man Out
That Lovely Fresh Air
You Ain't Got Me Yet
Between Hell and Nova Scotia
Wives and Husbands
The Singing Miner
The Richest, the Most Exclusive, the Most Inaccessible Club in the World
Man of the Year
"Seems Like a Fellow's Discouraged"
The Miners' Code
Sources and Acknowledgments
What Our Readers Are Saying
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