Like much of the world, I was captivated by the successful rescue of the miners trapped in the San Jose mine for 69 days in 2010. It was a marvelous feat of physical and emotional survival as well as technological ingenuity. In Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2000 Feet below the Chilean Desert, Marc Aronson provides a historical account of this incredible event for teens.
From geological events to the desperate poverty of the region to the Chilean mining industry, he lays out the setting of the mine disaster. From there, with the miners trapped, Aronson alternates between events on the surface and those inside the mine. This maintains the tension even when the eventual outcome is known. It is truly amazing that they survived the first seventeen days with the minimal resources they had. Aronson is open in his admiration of the decisions the men made and the leadership that allowed this to happen. While below ground, the decision to choose leaders was critical to the men’s survival, above ground it was the decision to allow 3 different types of drills to reach the miners at once that proved wise. The “winner” of the race to the miners was the relatively unknown drill from the small company, Center Rock, that probably would never have been chosen had only drill been allowed to attempt such a feat.
Trapped is a meticulously researched introduction to this important event with indepth back matter that will be helpful to students learning about research in general as well as the Chilean mine rescue. Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver the emotional punch I expected. Their rescue was an amazing feat reminiscent of the moon mission (NASA was even involved in the rescue) where the impossible came true and many lessons were learned that will help society in general. Trapped is top-notch on a factual level, but if you are looking for a book to get teens excited about the possibilities of science and human achievement I recommend Catherine Thimmesh’s Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon.