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REVIEW: Beyond the Deep: The Deadly Descent into the World's Most Treacherous Cave.


I have always held a certain respect for those people who go thousands of meters below the surface of the earth for a very simple reason - there is no chance anyone or anything would get me going down there!

'Beyond the Deep' is the engagingly written account of the build up, the descent and outcome of the co-author William Stone-led expedition into the Sistema Huautla cave system in Mexico. The story grips you from the very beginning and opens your eyes to the full extent of what cavers try, and manage, to accomplish.

The book begins in 1979 with Bill Stone's first foray into a cave by the name of Sotana de San Agustin, located in the Huautla Plateau in Mexico. From this 1979 section we learn that there is a certain addiction amongst cavers, "...they were addicted to the experience of boldly going where no one had gone before...".

Also contained in this initial section are details of Stone's expedition into another cave on the Huautla Plateau. The exploration of the Li Nita cave in which he made the discovery that it joined the Sotana de San Agustin. Overall, this section highlights how much the combination of discoveries made exploration deeper into this cave system something of a Holy Grail for Stone.

Following the initial section with its background information, the reader is fastforwarded to the 1994 expedition. It is this expedition which is recounted in detail throughout the rest of the book. Where, in accompaniment to the text, there are drawn illustrations and breathtaking photographs from deep inside the bowels of the earth.

Once the tale is told the reader is given some kind of closure as to why these people risk their lives doing what they do, "...In a twist on the old why-do-men-climb-mountains cliche, the caver deadpans: 'Because it's not there'...For while every climber knows which mountain is the tallest, no one will know which cave is the deepest until cavers bottom them all...". Which I inferred as being the thrill they must get, going somewhere where no person has gone before.

As I read I had to keep reminding myself that this was not a work of fiction, that this phenomenal adventure actually happened. This is a thoroughly enjoyable book which I also found to be brutally honest. The authors could have steered away from the thrill seeking, competitive element to their past time, yet they embrace it and openly admit it, which endeared me even more to them.

CONCLUSION: I would recommend this book to anyone without a second thought.

Title: Beyond the Deep: The Deadly Descent into the World's Most Treacherous Cave Author: William Stone / Barbara Am Ende / Monte Paulsen Published by: Warner Books ISBN: 0-446-52709-2 Price: USD26.95 Reviewer: Rebecca Sanderman
COPYRIGHT 2002 Normans Media Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Sanderman, Rebecca
Publication:M2 Best Books
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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