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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

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  177 Ratings  ·  30 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
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2003)
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Oct 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Brandy Navetta
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was such an interesting read. It's honest depiction of this event was informative, but written in such a way that I didn't feel like it was some gory glorification of a real life horror. The political side story is interesting too, particularly with the recent successes of Donald Trump. I couldn't help but compare him to Governor Griffin in Georgia. Will this country EVER learn? Definitely worth a read.
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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?
Aug 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Laura Buechler
Aug 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
Technically I only made it about two-thirds of the way through this book, which is when the story of the rescue ended and the story of the aftermath, including a lot of stuff about a state-sponsored holiday to racially-segregated Georgia, which was supposed to be great tourism advertising of the state. See, even that handful of words was more time than I really cared to spend on that subject. I wanted to read about miners who feared for their lives, and how they were rescued, and what they did w ...more
Jeff Sharlet
May 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
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 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)
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a compelling story of miners who were trapped underground. In [Last Man Out] [Melissa Fay Greene] does an excellent job of capturing the emotions of those trapped as well as the families above ground. She also connects the political and economic climate of the time by telling the story of how these Canadian miners ended up connected to Georgia's fight for tourist dollars and caught experiencing segregation first hand. This is an emotional and well told story on many levels.
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Al Maki
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Amy Weeks
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I grew up " two towns over" from Springhill and we had class trips to the old coal mine so I knew the story but this book really hit it home for me. being from the area and haven been at the coal mine head really added a richness to this book . It's a beautifully written story.
Jul 29, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Nov 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
Jim Swike
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An amazing tragic story, a great read.
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Good historical narrative about the Springhill Mine Disaster. Many first hand thoughts about the mine and miner's lives.
Tim Painter
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, survival
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.
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed how this story was told and I have a feeling it's going to stick with me.
Pamela Gottfried
Nov 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a great read--like all of her books about Georgia/history!
Devereaux Library SDSM&T
In 1958 a expanding gasses in a coal mine in Springhill, Nova Scotia sealed 174 men underground...
Jul 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
May 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Good historical book, which validates my lifelong aversion to mines.
rated it it was amazing
Jun 18, 2010
Leslie Klingensmith
rated it liked it
Apr 04, 2012
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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 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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