Finding the Devil by William Langewiesche
Darkness, Light, and the Untold Story of the Chilean Mine Disaster (Kindle Single)

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They were thirty-three men trapped beneath tons of rock half a mile underground. The odds of them making it out alive were almost nil. When they emerged nearly two months later, they were known around the world simply as the Chilean miners, and theirs had become one of the greatest survival stories of our time. But few of us know what really happened above and below the ground at that treacherous mine near Copiapó, Chile.

In his extraordinary report on the San Jose mine disaster, William Langewiesche, a two-time National Magazine Award winner and nine-time finalist, brings a cinematic eye for detail to bear on the many stories within the story. First there were the men trapped 2,200 feet below the surface, where they diligently rationed canned peaches as they waited in the dark for rescue. There was the well-intentioned minister of mining, who wanted only to bring the men back alive; a Chilean president perhaps hoping to use the opportunity to bolster his approval ratings; rescuers flown in from around the world, with competing plans of attack. There was the adventurous Hungarian family that built the mine, and the owners who cut corners to keep the business alive. And there was the incessant cry of the pneumatic hammers used to bore half a mile through bedrock, hoping blindly to reach their target.

Finally, there was the tense seven-week period during which families waited to see their loved ones again, the elaborate preparations for the rescue ceremony, the psychologists who prepared the miners for the celebrity status that awaited them on the surface. As the decisive moment came near, Langewiesche writes, "a parade of characters kept showing up at the scene uninvited: priests and preachers, nuns, jugglers, Mormons, mimes, theater troupes, poets, long-distance walkers, a human billboard, and four Uruguayan survivors of the Andean airplane crash described in 'Alive.' "

Widely considered to be one of our era’s greatest narrative journalists, Langewiesche has been hailed by the "Washington Post" as a "sharp observer and gifted stylist whose sentences often have a kind of poetic precision." In "Finding the Devil," he uses that precision to unveil truths about human nature during a crisis, and to ask the provocative question: What is heroism, and what are mere heroics?


"Author William Langewiesche goes past [the] long-forgotten pictures and headlines to present a keen, thorough picture of the circumstances surrounding this remarkable event. … His reporting on the miners' remarkable mental and physical stamina, and on the complicated rescue effort and surrounding publicity circus, makes 'Finding the Devil' a powerful and entertaining read." —Liz Colville, San Francisco Chronicle


William Langewiesche is the international correspondent for "Vanity Fair" and the author of several books, including "The Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of the Nuclear Poor," "The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom, Chaos, and Crime," "Cutting for Sign," about politics along the U.S.-Mexico border, "Sahara Unveiled: A Journey Across the Desert," "Aloft: Thoughts on the Experience of Flight," "Fly by Wire," about the successful landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, and "American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center," a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Langewiesche has won two National Magazine Awards and has been a finalist nine times.


“[A] formidable talent … whose cool, precise and economical reporting is harnessed to an invigorating moral and intellectual perspective.” —The New York Times

“Langewiesche’s prose flows seamlessly and elegantly.” —San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

About William Langewiesche

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William Langewiesche is an American author and journalist, and was a professional airplane pilot for many years. He is currently the international correspondent for the magazine Vanity Fair, but made his name as a national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly magazine. He has written articles covering events such as the World Trade Center cleanup, a three-part series which was published as the book American Ground. Langewiesche was a finalist for the 2004 Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage for American Ground. Unbuilding the World Trade Center and 2005 for The Outlaw Sea. He was a finalist for the 2007 Michael Kelly Award. He currently lives in France.
Published November 15, 2012 by Byliner Inc.. 70 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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The Wall Street Journal

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After their inspiring rescue, the Chilean miners became casualties of an international media frenzy. Barton Swaim reviews William Langewiesche's "Finding the Devil" and Yoram Kaniuk's "1948."

Dec 07 2012 | Read Full Review of Finding the Devil: Darkness, ...

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