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Last Man Out: The Story of the Springhill Mine Disaster
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Last Man Out: The Story of the Springhill Mine Disaster

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  133 ratings  ·  23 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 h
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2003)
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Community Reviews

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Eniko
Another one of those books that you read and then can't stop thinking about. It was very well written. Everyone's personalities were so well described that the reader really got a sense of who everyone was. I had been surprised to see that the author was American, but when I read and saw the American connection, it made sense. I was just surprised because I had expected the author of such a book would be Canadian.

The true story begins in Book I by introducing the miners, their lifestyle and dail
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Peg
I'm claustrophobic. So it took me a long time to pick up Greene's Last Man Out. But I loved her writing so much, I was willing to give it a fling. It was such a compelling read that I gave it to my husband and he gave to his dad and he gave it to... You get the idea. And the strange connection of this mining disaster to Georgia finally answered my question: How did Greene become interested in researching this event?
Sarah
My Review: In this highly industrialized and technology-saturated culture of ours it becomes all too easy to take seemingly tiny things for granted; effortlessly flicking on a light switch, filling up our gas-guzzlers at the nearest station, stopping by the grocery store where every food and unnecessary product imaginable is within reach. Rarely do we stop to think about the sacrifices, the generations of suffering, and the relentless physical turmoil endured by individuals working in the hells ...more
Janet
This is an extraordinary piece of journalism. Because the author had access to historical research, including interviews with the survivors, she was able to produce a more in-depth look at a mine disaster than I have ever read. Later interviews, including the author's own, with survivors, their families, rescuers, and others, allow her to create a thorough and textured story of human struggle--the triumphs, the missteps, the grieving--rich with memorable people and events.

The story of what happe
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Al Maki
Canadians of a certain age will remember the event. Greene combines the research skills of a good reporter with a gift for empathy to bring to life the experience of these miners who were trapped underground. She also manages to shed some light on the workings of racism at the time.
Jeff Sharlet
Greene's first book, Praying for Sheetrock, was an instant classic of literary journalism. She's never regained that same tautness between subject and prose, but this modest book -- a narrative recreation of a legendary mining disaster, the literary equivalent of a made-for-TV-movie -- comes closer than anything else she's done. Her prose is never as fertile as in Sheetrock, but it's just right for the job and for the hardbitten Canadian miners who are the heroes of her story. And the story has ...more
Linda
Good historical narrative about the Springhill Mine Disaster. Many first hand thoughts about the mine and miner's lives.
Kara
I read this book based on reading her other books, 'There is No Me Without You' and 'Praying for Sheetrock'. She is one of my favorite non-fiction authors with her ability to make non-fiction so compelling and read like fiction. From 'Last Man Out' I have a better understanding of mining towns, mining, crisis, survival, US segregation in the late 1950's, and the years of healing after going through such an ordeal. It was also a timely read with recent mine disasters in West Virginia and China.
Pamela Gottfried
This was a great read--like all of her books about Georgia/history!
Annette
Seeing that this account of a 1958 Nova Scotia mine disaster was written by the author of Praying for Sheetrock: A Work of Nonfiction (1991) did attract my attention. Greene http://www.melissafaygreene.com/ provides a well-researched account of the struggle, courage, and suffering of trapped miners underground and agonized families above ground. Along the way, the author unveils links to Ed Sullivan and the state of Georgia. (lj)
Trailhoundz
A riveting account of the 1958 Springhill Mine Disaster in Canada. It was an "easy read" for non-fiction and went very quickly. Nice inset of b/w photos. I found the sub-story on the Atlanta governor & tourism ploy very slow and boring though, until the very end when the miners received their "vacation"- oye. Overall, a great summer read.
Vince
Nov 07, 2009 Vince rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: danny lancaster
This is the story of the Springhill Mine disaster which was the subject of a popular folk song in the 60s. It is about the disaster and the eventual evolutions that took place afterward.
I have known and sung (usually to myself due to voice) this song for long and I found the book quite good.
Marilynn
I finished this August 2 and enjoyed it. I was impressed with the difference between these miners
and the miners in South America. I think it was the difference in time; although quite a few
were saved, many died. the difference in equipment, television coverage, etc.
Karen
A bit depressing to read about death and deprivation but evoked a time period and the link to Georgia was pretty interesting with the segregation aspect of it. The end was kind of unsatisfying but it is a true story, so author didn't have much choice
Brent
Just read anything by Greene! In this, Nova Scotia mine collapse survivors are invited to segregated Jekyll Island GA under Marvin Griffin: comedy of errors ensues after tragedy. The disaster and culture clash are both rich in dramatic irony.
Brian
All her books are great. This could have been a standard disaster-survival tome. Instead it turns out to be about race relations. Don't want to give it away, read it, you won't regret your decision.
Julia
This was an incredible story and I really enjoyed it. I found it a bit hard to follow because there were so many characters and thought it dragged a lot at the end but it was still a good book.
Brad
this was an okay read, an interesting story, but i expected so much more coming from an author who has twice been a finalist for the national book award. i'd give it a 6 out of 10.
Tim Painter
This is the incredible survival story of the miners in Springhill. Very sad and yet inspiring with the survival of those who did make it out.
Diana
My grandfather was a coal miner all of his life and this book gave me an in sight to what he went through in the mines. Good book.
Devereaux Library SDSM&T
In 1958 a expanding gasses in a coal mine in Springhill, Nova Scotia sealed 174 men underground...
Katharine
Good historical book, which validates my lifelong aversion to mines.
Jim Swike
An amazing tragic story, a great read.
Paul Liddle
Paul Liddle marked it as to-read
Feb 20, 2015
Brynna
Brynna marked it as to-read
Feb 11, 2015
Kim
Kim marked it as to-read
Jan 11, 2015
Cheryl
Cheryl marked it as to-read
Jan 08, 2015
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Melissa Greene has been a contributor to NPR, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, LIFE, Good Housekeeping, Newsweek, The Atlantic, Readers Digest, Ms., The Wilson Quarterly, Redbook, and Salon.com. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Don Samuel, a criminal defense attorney. They have been married for 28 years and are the parents of nine children: Molly, Seth, Lee, Lily, Jesse (adopted ...more
More about Melissa Fay Greene...
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