33 Men: Inside the Miraculous Survival and Dramatic Rescue of the Chilean Miners
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.
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