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Underland: A Deep Time Journey

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  110 ratings  ·  55 reviews
From the best-selling, award-winning author of Landmarks and The Old Ways, a haunting voyage into the planet’s past and future.

Hailed as "the great nature writer of this generation" (Wall Street Journal), Robert Macfarlane is the celebrated author of books about the intersections of the human and the natural realms. In Underland, he delivers his masterpiece: an epic explor
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Hardcover, 496 pages
Expected publication: June 4th 2019 by W.W. Norton Company (first published May 2nd 2019)
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Cary I think you should ask a more specific question. You question is so general, I don't understand what you hope to learn that's not in the…moreI think you should ask a more specific question. You question is so general, I don't understand what you hope to learn that's not in the already-posted reviews.(less)

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4.39  · 
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 ·  110 ratings  ·  55 reviews


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Fiona
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m a seasoned armchair traveler, used to shadowing journeys that I know I’ll never do myself. One of my BFFs is always telling me ‘never say never’ and perhaps she’s right, except when it comes to this book, Underland. Hand on heart, I will never follow in Robert Macfarlane’s footsteps underground. I’m too claustrophobic.

This book is many layered. A bridging theme to his many different journeys is our generation’s legacy to the future. In the words of Jonas Salk, “Are we being good ancestors?”
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Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)
I was wary of Underland at the beginning, as I normally reach for Macfarlane’s books when I cannot go exploring myself. Sort of a stand in adventure while bound to my desk for work or asthma keeping my indoors in winter. How would it work reading about him exploring terrain that I have absolutely no interest in exploring myself? Would I love it or would I be detached and disinterested?

Right from the beginning, I was greeted by the high level of writing. It is a bit like meeting up with an old fr
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Nigel
In brief - Without question the best/most interesting Macfarlane book I have read. 4.5/5 and happily rounded up.

In full
I am a fan of Robert Macfarlane's work and have read a number of his books over the past few years. All the previous books I've read have been largely about life in the open. This one takes a very different direction and goes Underland. In common with previous books it looks at its subject in differing places, times and ways. The range of Underland topics that he manages to cov
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Fiona
I’m a seasoned armchair traveler, used to shadowing journeys that I know I’ll never do myself. One of my BFFs is always telling me ‘never say never’ and perhaps she’s right, except when it comes to this book, Underland. Hand on heart, I will never follow in Robert Macfarlane’s footsteps underground. I’m too claustrophobic.

This book is many layered. A bridging theme to his many different journeys is our generation’s legacy to the future. In the words of Jonas Salk, “Are we being good ancestors?”
...more
Rebecca
This was a bit of a hodgepodge for me; that it’s exceptionally written goes without saying, but I’m not sure Macfarlane succeeds in bringing together all of his wildly different subterranean topics: mining, caving, burial chambers, the study of dark matter, radioactive waste, tree communication networks, Parisian catacombs, the mythical rivers of the underworld, prehistoric cave paintings, resistance to oil drilling, Greenland’s glaciers and Finland’s tunnels, and more. I felt crushed by the wei ...more
Alex Sarll
Macfarlane's latest book is his weirdest and most magical, his most political, and definitely his darkest. Maybe also his best. It's a coming to terms with the Anthropocene that is aware of the issues with that term, and which at times feels like it would be more at home with Donna Haraway's alternate coinage of the Cthulhucene – not least when a melting glacier exposes something ancient and horrifying which for a moment resembles a black pyramid. Alan Garner gets a mention early on, but that's ...more
jeremy
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
one of the most compelling, vivid, thought-provoking, magnificent, and richly composed non-fiction books i've read in some time, robert macfarlane's underland: a deep time journey traverses the european continent, exploring subterranean locales both natural and man-made (and, er, man-caused). with his poetic command of language, keen observational gifts, and worldly perspective, macfarlane's writing is frequently breathtaking.

seamlessly blending scientific inquiry, nature writing, travelogue, ad
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Bettie☯
Apr 14, 2019 marked it as wish-list


"Happy to hold, at last, a first finished hardback copy of Underland, with @StanleyDonwood’s luminous cover & swirling strata-story endpapers. I love endpapers; portal-pages in & out of a book." - Robert Macfarlane
Lou
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Award-winning and bestselling author Robert Macfarlane is back with a stunning story of landscape, nature, people and place and the accompanying history. Mr Macfarlane captures your attention rapidly with the interesting, information-rich text describing places lots of people will have no knowledge of. The author manages the fine balance between introducing us to enough information so that we are intrigued and suitably engaged but not so much that you become bored and drift away. That's no easy ...more
Glen
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: firstreads, science
I won this book in a goodreads drawing.

A nature writer writes about caves and other underground topics. Spelunking seems fun, but dangerous, much like skydiving. Lots of ruminating and speculating.

Fascinating, but several times we see how science is not all about facts and figures and duplicating results, but rather about scientists, and their ideas and emotions.
Laura
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the week:
In his eagerly awaited new book, Robert Macfarlane muses on the worlds beneath our feet. Abridged for radio by Katrin Williams.

In this the Anthropocene Age, life underground is ecologically and delicately poised... And then he recalls a vivid cave journey in the Mendips, with his friend Sean - "The entry is awkward, a body-bending downwards wriggle before a drop..."

Read by the author

Producer Duncan Minshull


https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000...
Leah
Apr 19, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, factual, abandoned
Unfortunately, the author's style isn't working for me, so I'm abandoning the book at 30%. I find it shallow (ironically), full of poorly evidenced observations on the human relationship to underground spaces which don't stand up to much thought. I chose it because I'd been told his writing is gorgeous, but I'm afraid I'm not seeing that. The descriptions on the whole are pedestrian, and I am so tired of being told about him shimmying through almost impossible tunnels - it would appear one narro ...more
Thebooktrail
BookTrail photo of Underland

Visit some of the locations - there's many underground!

I always enjoy the books Robert Macfarlane writes but this one is my favourite. Ever since I read Alice in Wonderland, I have wanted to go underground and see what’s beneath our feet. I read a lot about the underground in crime fiction but that’s another kind altogether so I was particularly keen to get stuck in with this.

Robert certainly has a nice and assured style to his writing that exudes his passion and love of what he’s writing about.
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Karina
Utterly stunning writing, and for me, his finest book to date.
Michael
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, nature
Wow! This book will blow you away with the insight that it provides. I am still in awe of the wealth of information that I have gained. It gives me such a better appreciation of our world and what lies underneath the surface. Robert McFarlane has lived so many things I would have thought impossible. His drive and strength is amazing to have pushed himself to such extremes. Robert's experiences cover such wide variety of topics. I felt like I was familiar with many of the "scientific" terms but t ...more
Charlotte Burt
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aty-2019
This guy can really write.
Armchair caving at it's best and so much more. I loved the chapter about the Paris catacombs.
Alan Williams
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: natural-history
This is probably Robert Macfarlane's best book to date. From the Mendips to the catacombs beneath Paris; from the former Yugoslavia to Greenland. The book is both claustrophobic and mind expanding.

I think I'd still say that "The Wild Places" is my favourite of his books but that's because of personal preference around topic rather than the book itself.

It is a beautiful book and one that I had a sadness finishing because it was over.
Stephanie Crowe
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have never thought a lot about the ground under my feet as it was not in my visual line of sight. Macfarlane has changed my thinking on the subject and has written an insightful and very book on what is underground. A fascinating look at the varied life under the earth’s surface. And there is so much history to be discovered there! Even though small spaces make me nervous, I loved this book! A great read!
Aria
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
---- Disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ----

So, this was okay. It needs to be thinned down, particularly for reading by the wider public. For those who are already into this kind of thing, it could benefit from more detail regarding specific sites, & maybe fewer remarks about the author's personal experience. So basically I am suggesting that there are two possible books here. There is a lot of info. in here. It's too much, frankly. Bonus points for the Pixies refere

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Wanda
Apr 28, 2019 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Wanda by: Laura
28 APR 2018 - recommendation through Laura. Thank you, Dear Laura.
Karen
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to read everything this author has written....
Tanya
The same three tasks recur across cultures and epochs: to shelter what is precious, to yield what is valuable, and to dispose of what is harmful... Into the underland we have long placed that which we fear and wish to lose, and that which we love and wish to save. [loc. 113]


Macfarlane's epic journey to the 'underland' -- the places beneath the earth -- is formed of three parts: 'Seeing' (caves, forests and a dark-matter research facility, all in England);'Hiding' (catacombs, underground rivers a
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Vivienne
My thanks to Penguin Books U.K. for an eARC via NetGalley of Robert Macfarlane’s ‘Underland: a Deep Time Journey’ in exchange for an honest review.

Robert Macfarlane takes us on a journey into the worlds beneath our feet. He travels to various locations throughout the world recording his experiences and impressions in notebooks.

Among the many areas covered within ‘Underland’ are: the underground networks of trees (wood wide web), dark matter experiments, undercities and catacombs, urban explorer
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Overbylass
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I've only read three books by the author so far and will try more over time .I try so hard to be team Macfarlane .The books are praised so highly that I want in on it all -but I always feel I'm not wanted. I feel excluded , that somehow the books know I was born working class , educated at a hideous Middlesbrough 80s comprehensive and then ,as a result, onto a mediocre 'college' for a degree. They seem to always tell me that this not your world ...you'll never go to these places, with these cont ...more
Michelle
Apr 01, 2019 marked it as to-read
Recommended by Richard Powers (The Overstory) in By the Book https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/28/bo...
mylogicisfuzzy
“The same three tasks recur across cultures and epochs: to shelter what is precious, to yield what is valuable, and to dispose of what is harmful. Shelter (memories, precious matter, messages, fragile lives). Yield (information, wealth, metaphors, minerals, visions). Dispose (waste, trauma, poison, secrets). Into the underland we have long placed that which we fear and wish to lose, and that which we love and wish to save.” says Robert Macfarlane in the Introduction to this wonderful book.

I say
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AnnaG
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As ever Macfarlane’s nature writing is sublime and you get a real sense of the beautiful places he is visiting and the fascinating characters along the way.

For me I found that it was best to take this book in small chunks as there is a lot to take in, in every chapter.
Katy Wheatley
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. It was pretty hard to read in places, not because he doesn't write beautifully, because he so does, but because he lays out the environmental catastrophe we are heading towards pretty clearly and it's fairly terrifying. In between that I was entranced to find out about the wood wide web, and invisible cities and hidden rivers and all kinds of treasures, man made and natural. It's an epic and thrilling read. I feel very privileged to have been given an advance copy v ...more
Kylene
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: won-on-goodreads
I really enjoyed Underland. It was fascinating and not too dry, nor simplified too much. I no longer do a lot of nonfiction reading for pleasure, and this book made me see how much I am missing out.
Meg
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A masterful poet and naturalist explores the wonders beneath our feet.

I had read and loved Macfarlane’s The Old Ways a few years back and while this was a very different book in many ways, I still felt much of the same sense of quite reverence for the natural world around us.

This was a book I enjoyed most when I had a short chunk of time to immerse myself in a chapter. This isn’t a book to race through. Like Macfarlane himself does in this book, it is best if you allow yourself the space to dig
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Robert Macfarlane is a British nature writer and literary critic.

Educated at Nottingham High School, Pembroke College, Cambridge and Magdalen College, Oxford, he is currently a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and teaches in the Faculty of English at Cambridge.
“My sense,’ I say to Christopher, ‘is that the search for dark matter has produced an elaborate, delicate edifice of presuppositions, and a network of worship sites, also known as laboratories, all dedicated to the search for an invisible universal entity which refuses to reveal itself. It seems to resemble what we call religion rather more than what we call science.” 0 likes
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