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Last Man Outby Melissa Fay Greene
Synopses & Reviews
The deepest coal mine in North America was notoriously unpredictable. One late October evening in 1958, it "bumped" - its rock floors heaving up and smashing into rock ceilings. A few miners staggered out, most of the 174 on shift did not.
Nineteen men were trapped, plunged into darkness, hunger, thirst, and hallucination. As days and nights passed, the survivors began to hope for death by gas rather than from thirst. Above ground, journalists and families stood in despairing vigil, as rescuers brought out scores of the dead. The hope of finding life undergound faded and families made funeral preparations.
Then, a miracle: Rescuers stumbled across a broken pipe leading to a cave of survivors, then a second group was discovered.
A media circus followed. Ed Sullivan, then the state of Georgia, invited survivors to visit. Publicity, politics, and segregation sorted the men differently than they had ordered themselves. Underground, the one black survivor nursed a dying man; in Atlanta, Governor Marvin Griffin said: "I will not shake hands with a Negro."
If every great writer has one tale of peril, heroism, and survival, Last Man Out is Melissa Fay Greene's. Using long-lost stories and interviews with survivors, Greene has reconstructed the drama of their struggle to stay alive
Book News Annotation:
Day by day, and hour by hour, journalist and popular historian Greene recounts how 19 survivors, of 174 total miners, were rescued from the deepest coal mine in the US when it collapsed in October 1958, the experience of officials and families on the surface, and the fate of the survivors afterward. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -332) and index.
About the Author
Melissa Fay Greene's books, PRAYING FOR SHEETROCK and THE TEMPLE BOMBING, both were National Book Award finalists, winning numerous other awards. SHEETROCK appeared on the "J" list of the top 100 works of journalism of the 20th century. Greene has written for The New Yorker, Newsweek, New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Life.<br>She lives in Atlanta with her husband and six children.
Table of Contents
1 The Thunder of Baritones
2 A World without Sun
3 Home of the Long Tides
4 The Bump
5 "What Am I Doing Here? What Am I Doing Here?"
6 "When a Miner Says It's Bad, Look Out"
7 A Dark Chaos
8 "If There Are Boys Alive, They'll Be Expecting Us"
9 "Oh Dear, Oh Dear, I Would Help You if You Was Caught"
10 In Black, White, and Silver
11 "There Has Got to Be a Way Out, Boys!"
12 No Hope Whatsoever
13 "It's Good Day to Him,I Reckon."
14 Hard Times
15 When Sleep and Waking Feel the Same
16 "What on Earth Will I Do without Him?"
17 The Lost Lovely Sky
18 A Malevolent Factory
19 "Ruther've Done Chicken Farming"
20 "You Know He's Bad People, but You Can't Help But Like Him"
21 Birthday Party
22 Day-Glo on Velvet
23 Good Night, Sweetheart
24 Could a Mouse Escape?
25 Unnecessary Humiliation
26 Percy's Brook
27 Gas Like a Night Nurse
28 The Boxer
29 A Particle of Light
30 Home Cooking
31 Last Man Out
32 That Lovely Fresh Air
33 You Ain't Got Me Yet
34 Between Hell and Nova Scotia
35 Angels, Angels
36 Wives and Husbands
37 The Singing Miner
38 The Richest, the Most Exclusive, the Most Inaccessible Club in the World
40 Man of the Year
41 "Seems Like a Fellow's Discouraged"
42 The Miners' Code
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