Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free


On August 5, 2010, tremors ran through the San José mine outside of Copiapó, Chile, collapsing tunnels and trapping 33 miners three miles below the ground.  

The result of hundreds of interviews, Deep Down Dark details the harrowing 69-day rescue effort and the toll taken on the men buried within the earth. By focusing on a handful of the miners, Héctor Tobar elucidates their stories from their initial despair, to the spark of hope at the possibility of rescue, and then finally to the strangeness of their sudden fame. 

Filled with moments of acute emotion and explosive tension, Deep Down Dark is an illuminating and humanizing examination of the story that captured the world.

“Franklin is contemplating a return to an earlier, simpler, and nonfamous version of himself: He will be part of a couple again, with the mother of his children.  As he thinks about the goodness of this personal transformation, his embrace of humility, he sees the workingmen around him getting puffed-up heads about how important they are and the glory that awaits them on the surface: They're even wearing a kind of national team jersey as they gather for their underground Independence Day celebration.  It seems silly to Franklin for his fellow miners to think of themselves as national heroes when all they’ve done is gotten themselves trapped in a place where only the desperate and the hard up for cash go to suffer and toil. They are famous now, yes, but that heady sense of fullness that fame gives you, that sense of being at the center of everything, will disappear quicker than they could possibly imagine. Franklin tries to speak this truth to his fellow miners, but he does so halfheartedly, because he knows the only way to learn it is to live it.”

Héctor Tobar is a novelist and journalist, and worked for more than a decade as a national and foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.  His nonfiction books include Deep Down Dark and Translation Nation: Defining a New American Identity in the Spanish-Speaking United States, and his novels are The Tattooed Soldier and The Barbarian Nurseries.  

Published:  2014
Length:  320 pages
Set in:  Copiapó, Chile