Laura's Reviews > The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City

The Mole People by Jennifer Toth
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's review
May 21, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: nonfiction, other-nonfiction
Read in May, 2011 — I own a copy

I am once again blown away by the efforts of a journalist to compile a story. Through the whole book, I struggled with whether I was more impressed by her guts or her stupidity. Particularly with how it all played out in the end, it is frightening how fragile her safety was in conducting her research on the underground homeless. The unfortunate thing is that for all her immersion in the underground world, so little of it really made it to the page. The book is essentially a series of text snapshots of individuals who live in the tunnels beneath New York City, interspersed with forgettable essays on the historical and social context of either homelessness or underground living in general. Her vague descriptions of the people tended to make most of them forgettable too, which is the exact opposite of her intentions. The few entire communities she described were fascinating and it was interesting to see the charismatic leader figure repeated throughout. Even these were bare sketches, however. I think Toth has so much in her head from her encounters that she can't convey a complete picture to her audience -- there's far less written here than I think she sees.

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