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Extended Audio Sample Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth, by James M. Tabor, James Tabor Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,292 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James M. Tabor, James Tabor Narrator: Don Leslie Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The deepest cave on earth was a prize that had remained unclaimed for centuries, long after every other ultimate discoveries had been made: both poles by 1912, Everest in 1958, the Challenger Deep in 1961. In 1969 we even walked on the moon. And yet as late as 2000, the earth’s deepest cave—the supercave—remained undiscovered. This is the story of the men and women who risked everything to find it, earning their place in history beside the likes of Peary, Amundsen, Hillary, and Armstrong. 

In 2004, two great scientist-explorers are attempting to find the bottom of the world. Bold, heroic American Bill Stone is committed to the vast Cheve Cave, located in southern Mexico and deadly even by supercave standards. On the other side of the globe, legendary Ukrainian explorer Alexander Klimchouk—Stone’s polar opposite in temperament and style, but every bit his equal in scientific expertise, physical bravery, and sheer determination—has targeted Krubera, a freezing nightmare of a supercave in the Republic of Georgia where underground dangers are compounded by the horrors of separatist war in this former Soviet republic.

Blind Descent explores both the brightest and darkest aspects of the timeless human urge to discover—to be first. It is also a thrilling epic about a pursuit that makes even extreme mountaineering and ocean exploration pale by comparison. These supercavers spent months in multiple camps almost two vertical miles deep and many more miles from their caves’ exits. They had to contend with thousand-foot drops, deadly flooded tunnels, raging whitewater rivers, monstrous waterfalls, mile-long belly crawls, and much more. Perhaps even worse were the psychological horrors produced by weeks plunged into absolute, perpetual darkness, beyond all hope of rescue, including a particularly insidious derangement called “the Rapture.”

James M. Tabor was granted unprecedented access to logs, journals, photographs, and video footage of these expeditions, as well as many hours of personal interviews with surviving participants. Blind Descent is an unforgettable addition to the classic literature of discovery and adventure. It is also a testament to human survival and endurance—and to two extraordinary men whose relentless pursuit of greatness led them to heights of triumph and depths of tragedy neither could have imagined.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Heart-stopping and relentlessly gripping. Tabor takes us on an odyssey into unfathomable worlds beneath us and into the hearts of rare explorers who will do anything to get there first.”

    Robert Kurson, New York Times bestselling author of Shadow Divers

  • “Riveting…Just try to stop reading.”

    Washington Post

  • “A captivating summer read for adventure seekers and armchair adrenaline junkies alike.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “A pulse-pounding narrative.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A fascinating and informative introduction to the sport of cave diving, as well as a dramatic portrayal of a significant man-vs.-nature conflict.” 

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2010

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Justin | 2/9/2014

    " Pretty stinking good! Very entertaining for nonfiction. Felt very similar to another great nonfiction book, Shadow Divers, and equally recommended. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Noah | 2/9/2014

    " The first half of this story, about an American team exploring caves in southern Mexico, is so exciting that it hardly matters how clunky and repetitive Tabor's writing is. The second half, though, about an Eastern European team in Abkhazia, totally loses steam. I'd give it a C+. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Carissa | 1/21/2014

    " The book was interesting for about half of Part 1. Part 2 became a compare and contrast essay between Stone and Klimchouk. It was dry, dry, dry. In short, I didn't finish it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Tiffany | 1/21/2014

    " I'm having a hard time getting through this book. It started out interesting as I like books about extreme sports but in my opinion it has far too much focus on the ego's of the characters. The descents become shorter and shorter and lackluster in their description and it has quite frankly become a downer. Unlike "Into Thin Air" I don't have any connection to the characters and it seems like neither do they with each other. People die and it's business as usual to get to the depths of the earth. I understand and appreciate the drive but I don't think it's been conveyed well in this book. I will finish it out of principle, but it's a struggle. "

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