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.
Praise for William Langewiesche:
“[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
FINDING THE DEVIL
Darkness, Light, and the Untold Story of the Chilean Mine Disaster
"[A] powerful and entertaining read."—San Francisco Chronicle
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?