Review: Blind descent : the quest to discover the deepest place on earth, by James M. Tabor


Rating: ★★★

Summary: Two teams on opposite sides of the world, one in Mexico led by American Bill Stone, and one in Abkhazia led by Ukrainian Alexander Klimchouk, both seek to discover the deepest cave on earth. The book is divided between the two stories but is weighted more heavily towards Stone’s expeditions. A fascinating look into the world of deep caving, providing a glimpse at a highly technical and dangerous activity while entertaining with a (mostly) gripping tale of adventurous exploration.

Thoughts: I loved caves as a kid, and I still do, but I’ve never been caving and this book definitely didn’t make me want to. It sounds uncomfortable and dangerous. Mostly uncomfortable. The book did make me want to learn more about “supercaves,” as the author calls them, and if you subscribe to National Geographic magazine you can read the articles on the subject mentioned in the book in their online archive.

This book does what it is intended to do well: tell a story about caving to a general audience in a way that is exciting, interesting, and modestly educational. You won’t learn a great deal about either the scientific or technical aspects of caves or caving, but this book is a great place to start if the subject peaks your interest.

I do wish it had a few more supplementary materials with it. There are some pages of photos, but they are small and mostly of the team members rather than of the caves. Maps of the caves and some sort of graphic to demonstrate scale would have been very helpful.