Amy's Reviews > Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth

Blind Descent by James M. Tabor
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's review
Apr 30, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: survival, non-fiction, exploration, amazon-vine, 2010-books-read
Read from May 03 to 06, 2010

I've grown to really love adventure and survival books and thought this would definitely be an interesting read in the genre. I wasn't disappointed. Blind Descent tells of cave exploration adventures in 2 of the world's deepest caves. I was initially concerned that the author wouldn't be able to make me see the cave in my mind as he told the story and that the author couldn't possibly hold my interest throughout the entire book, but I was absolutely enthralled and found myself daydreaming of cave diving between reads.

When I first thought what I might encounter in this book, I wondered what fun there could be in dropping into a deep hole that went down thousands of feet, but these caves aren't simply deep holes. The process includes rappelling down some very large shafts as well as walking some straight stretches before hitting another shaft or waterfall. Sometimes they have to send divers to swim through water they call "sumps" in order to find another opening into the cave beyond. Other times they find themselves trying to squeeze through very tight openings between rocks or even digging to make room for their bodies to fit though tinier openings carved by water over time. The experience is physically demanding and sometimes even deadly. And the exploration can last, sometimes, decades.

This particular caving book chronicles (as much as possible) deep cave discoveries in the Cheve Cave of Mexico and the Krubera cave in The Republic of Georgia. The caves are very different and so are the leaders of the expeditions. The Mexican cave is climatically normal and fairly open while the Georgian one is very cold and filled with very tight, slippery spaces. The leader of the Cheve Cave expeditions (an American) is hot-headed and lusty while the leader of the Krubera expeditions (a Ukranian) is level-headed and systematic.

There's far more information in the book about the Cheve Cave expeditions than the Krubera expeditions. I think this partially is because of language barriers for interview and partially because there probably was much more of a story to tell about the Cheve cave expeditions. In fact, I was glad the Krubera section of the book was fairly short because I wanted to get back to reading about the Cheve Cave.

I wish the book would have had pictures. I'm sure the book would have been more expensive to publish with pictures. However, a quick search online yields many pictures from various sources, including some really nice pictures of Cheve Cave on Flickr.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves adventure or survival stories or caving.

Note: While I critique both purchased and free books in the same way, I'm legally obligated to tell you I received this book free through the Amazon Vine program in return for my review. Blah blah blah.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Alex (new)

Alex Cool review, Amy...I'm psyched to read this. The author was on Daily Show tonight.

Have you read The Wild Trees, about extreme tree climbers (no, seriously)? It's awesome. By Richard Preston.

Also, surprisingly, pretty good: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, the story of that kid who got his hand caught under a rock and ended up amputating it with his pen knife.

message 2: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy The author actually commented on my review a couple of weeks ago to let me know that the hardback copy of the book has pictures and that he was going to be on the Daily Show last night and tonight. I'm planning to watch it tonight online. :-D

Hmm ... extreme tree climbing sounds like something else I'd never do but would be interesting to read about.

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