Title: 33 Men: Inside the Miraculous Survival and Dramatic Rescue of the Chilean Miners
Author: Jonathan Franklin
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Publication Date: February 14, 2011
Hardcover: 320 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs
From the Publisher:
On August 5, 2010, at the San José mine in northern Chile, 33 men were entombed 2,300 feet below the earth when a slab of rock the size of a skyscraper sheared off the mountain and sealed shut their only access to the surface. The miners were discovered alive 17 days later, and for the next seven weeks after that discovery, as rescuers sought to bring them to the surface, the eyes of the world shifted to this previously obscure corner of South America. More than 2,000 journalists and reporters flooded in to cover the drama. But despite worldwide interest, the media rarely delved to either the front lines of the rescue or below the surface of the tragedy. Locked behind police lines, most reporters were reduced to months of interviewing family members and politicians. However, award-winning journalist Jonathan Franklin was the exception.
The print journalist with the most extensive access and contacts, Franklin reported, recorded, and filmed from the front row of the operation as it unfolded and, as a result, was afforded unprecedented and unique access to the miners and the rescuers. Now, for the first time ever, he tells their full story in 33 Men: Inside the Miraculous Survival and Dramatic Rescue of the Chilean Miners
Franklin’s status as a “local”–he has lived in Chile for 16 years, speaks fluent Spanish, and has six daughters with his Chilean wife–and his 25 years’ experience as an investigative reporter provided him access other journalists could only dream of. For almost six weeks he lived on the hillside that served as the rescue operation’s nerve center. He sat in on planning meetings, pored over government documents, and recorded sessions between the miners and the psychologists charged with looking after their mental health. He conducted interviews with miners’ families, rescue workers, engineers, drill operators, and many others, including President Piñera of Chile. Even before the miners were rescued, while they were still underground, Franklin interviewed them via a makeshift phone that connected them to the surface. “I sat in this container where you could pick up a phone, dial eleven, and the phone would ring down below,” says Franklin, who developed such a bond of trust with the miners that they described in great detail the dramatic first 17 days of their confinement. Cut off from the outside world and unsure if they would ever be found, let alone rescued, they were forced to create their own unique society while struggling to come to grips with the likelihood of a slow, lingering death.
Once the miners were rescued, Franklin interviewed virtually all of them–at their homes, at his house, on horseback, and at the beach. “All of this allowed me to develop a very special relationship with the miners,” says Franklin. “They showed me the videos they made while they were trapped, which have never been shared with anyone. Two of them lent me the private diaries they kept while underground. And rather than having to rely on hearsay or rumor, if I had a question, I could go directly to them and ask. Above all, they allowed me to get inside their heads as they described the experience and detailed what happened day by day.”
The result is 33 Men, the most authoritative book on the Chilean mine disaster. This timely book is an uplifting story of survival, endurance, and unprecedented human conquest. Written with the author’s renowned eye for detail, it captures the remarkable story of the miners who grasped the essence of the human spirit in order to survive their entrapment, and the men and women who literally moved a mountain to set them free.
When I was asked if I would be interested in reviewing 33 Men: Inside the Miraculous Survival and Dramatic Rescue of the Chilean Miners by Jonathan Franklin I immediately responded with an enthusiastic yes. From the moment I heard of the collapse at the San José mine and the miners who were trapped, I wanted to know more. Nightly, the news ticked by the days and gave spotty information of the rescue attempt. I watched online as the miners were finally brought up to safety and while I was overwhelmed with emotion I still had so many questions bouncing around in my head; Who were these 33 miners? What was it like to be stuck in a small area (it turns out they had roughly 1 mile of tunnel and a 540 square foot shelter with enough provisions to last ten miners for forty-eight hours)? How many search and rescue attempts were made before one succeeded? And finally, what were the family members thinking during the long wait? The only thing I knew before reading 33 Men was the political history of Chile, which is long and helps to explain a lot of actions that took place by the Piñera administration. Franklin brings the reader into Copiapó, Chile, to camp Hope, and inside the San José mine. Through Franklin’s eloquent use of prose he guides the reader through the events of those long days, interspersed with Chilean mining history, politics, and stories of the miners and their families. Franklin alternates between writing about what the miners were experiencing 2,300 ft below as well as what was occurring above the miners, who could for too long only hope and pray that something was being done. The efforts going into to rescuing these men was a Herculean task and while most of the world knows of the most prominent failed attempts, little was known of all those working ceaselessly behind the scenes. 33 Men will capture the reader and not let go, and while I knew the outcome of the book, I still found myself glued to my seat while I read of success and failures, struggles to maintain order and sanity and even the cultural divide that occurred. I found myself re-reading the book aloud to my husband, who wanted to know why I had not read the book earlier. My response was that I did not know about it. 33 Men is a vivid, detailed, and accurate account of what occurred inside and outside of the San José mine beginning on August 5, 2010 and is a story that is tragic, sad, poignant, at times funny, and inspiring and reminds the world that heroes do exist. I highly recommend everyone read 33 Men.
Jonathan Franklin has lived in Chile for more than fifteen years, twelve of those as The Guardian (UK) correspondent for Chile.
Granted a Rescue Team credential at the site of the Chilean mine disaster, his dispatches ran in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Observer (UK) and The Sydney Morning Herald. As cameraman at the mine, he filmed exclusive footage for ABC News, CNN International, Univision and the Discovery Channel.
For further information about the author please visit his website.
I received a complimentary copy of 33 Men by Jonathan Franklin from G.P. Putnam’s Sons to offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.