Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet

Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet

A panoramic investigation of the subterranean landscape, from sacred caves and derelict subway stations to nuclear bunkers and ancient underground cities—an exploration of the history, science, architecture, and mythology of the worlds beneath our feet.

When Will Hunt was sixteen years old, he discovered an abandoned tunnel that ran beneath his house in Providence, Rhode Island. His first tunnel trips inspired a lifelong fascination with exploring underground worlds, from the derelict subway stations and sewers of New York City to sacred caves, catacombs, tombs, bunkers, and ancient underground cities in more than twenty countries around the world. Underground is both a personal exploration of Hunt’s obsession and a panoramic study of how we are all connected to the underground, how caves and other dark hollows have frightened and enchanted us through the ages.

In a narrative spanning continents and epochs, Hunt follows a cast of subterraneaphiles who have dedicated themselves to investigating underground worlds. He tracks the origins of life with a team of NASA microbiologists a mile beneath the Black Hills, camps out for three days with urban explorers in the catacombs and sewers of Paris, descends with an Aboriginal family into a 35,000-year-old mine in the Australian outback, and glimpses a sacred sculpture molded by Paleolithic artists in the depths of a cave in the Pyrenees.

Each adventure is woven with findings in mythology and anthropology, natural history and neuroscience, literature and philosophy. In elegant and graceful prose, Hunt cures us of our “surface chauvinism,” opening our eyes to the planet’s hidden dimension. He reveals how the subterranean landscape gave shape to our most basic beliefs and guided how we think about ourselves as humans. At bottom, Underground is a meditation on the allure of darkness, the power of mystery, and our eternal desire to connect with what we cannot see.


“A mesmerizingly fascinating tale . . . I could not stop reading this beautifully written book.”—Michael Finkel, author of The Stranger in the Woods

“Few books have blown my mind so totally, and so often. In Will Hunt’s nimble hands, excursion becomes inversion, and the darkness turns luminous. There are echoes of Sebald, Calvino, and Herzog in his elegant and enigmatic voice, but also real warmth and humor. . . . An intrepid—but far from fearless—journey, both theoretically and terrestrially.”—Robert Moor, New York Times bestselling author of On Trails

“Underground left me, for days, wanting to go there—down, down, down, into the moisture and the mystery. It succeeds as reportage, as memoir, as historical survey and philosophical reflection. Will Hunt is a generous and literate mole man, beckoning us always to look lower.”—Ted Conover, author of Newjack

“An unusual and intriguing travel book, into the world beneath the world we know . . . a vivid illumination of the dark and an effective evocation of its profound mystery.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Underground is for anyone who’s ever peered into a crack in the earth and felt that peculiar blend of unease and curiosity. Read this and you will never look at the ground beneath you in the same way again.”—Steve Rinella, author of MeatEater and American Buffalo

“Will Hunt explores the subterranean world in all of its historic and psychological grandeur. This tour de force just might make you want to pull on a pair of rubber boots and strap on a headlamp to get a peek at the places we've forgotten.”—Scott Carney, New York Times bestselling author of What Doesn’t Kill Us

    Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet Reviews :

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  • Will Hunt

    To be fair, I wrote this book ;) ...

  • Jessaka

    Will Hunt spent time in the N.Y. underground, the subway tunnels. Revs did as well. Revs was a graffiti artist who spent many years using N.Y. City as a canvas. He became famous, but not in a way that...

  • Nick T. Borrelli

    Very cool book about the unique world of our subterranean landscape. Whether it be subway systems, mines, catacombs, underground tunnels, etc.... This is a fascinating world tour penned by an urban ex...

  • Mel

    Imagine yourself on an afternoon hike, stooping to push aside branches blocking a walk that meandered off the beaten path, and upon removing the pile of debris feeling the breath of a world beneath yo...

  • thefourthvine

    And this is why it is inadvisable to take recommendations from Overdrive, I guess, because I'm sure this book would be great for someone, but it was a resounding meh for me.The book is part travelogue...

  • Flint Bill

    One of the best works of non-fiction I've read in a while. Elegantly written, meticulously researched. Hunt went everywhere for this book! So many discoveries to be made about the world's caves, catac...

  • Isa

    Underground is one of the most poetic, breathtaking and ambitious books I have read in a long time. Hunt offers a delightful and unexpected journey, a fantastic expedition full of discoveries, surpris...

  • R Littlefield

    This non-fiction work starts off as a personal, memoir exploration of the author's preoccupation with subterranean worlds and expands into a much broader investigation, which ultimately explores the v...

  • Julie

    I sincerely thank the author for writing this book. I needed to read this book and it will be with me a long time. Everyone needs to read this book. I will share my thoughts soon.I am behind on doing ...

  • Nicolaus Stengl

    “Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet” is an extraordinarily well-researched book about the cavernous realm just beneath us. Will Hunt is our Virgil, guiding us into and thr...