National Bestseller • New York Times "100 Notable Books of the Year" • NPR "Favorite Books of 2019" • Guardian "100 Best Books of the 21st Century" • Winner of the National Outdoor Book Award
"Mesmerizing…Underland is a portal of light in dark times." —Terry Tempest Williams, New York Times Book Review
In Underland, Robert Macfarlane delivers an epic exploration of the Earth’s underworlds as they exist in myth, literature, memory, and the land itself. Traveling through the dizzying expanse of geologic time—from prehistoric art in Norwegian sea caves, to the blue depths of the Greenland ice cap, to a deep-sunk "hiding place" where nuclear waste will be stored for 100,000 years to come—Underland takes us on an extraordinary journey into our relationship with darkness, burial, and what lies beneath the surface of both place and mind.
Global in its geography and written with great lyricism, Underland speaks powerfully to our present moment. At once ancient and urgent, this is a book that will change the way you see the world.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This absorbing, experiential book illuminates a place most of us don’t think about: the underground, in all its forms. British nature writer Robert Macfarlane finds magic and self-discovery in limestone caverns, crypts, and catacombs…and also a dark-matter laboratory situated at the bottom of a salt mine. As he visits places you won’t find on many maps—there’s a thrilling sense of trespassing to all his quests—Macfarlane explores the folklore and deep-seated misgivings associated with subterranean spaces. Every page of this book inspires boundless curiosity.
Nature writer Macfarlane (The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot) expands readers' horizons while delving into the various "worlds beneath our feet" in an eye-opening, lyrical, and even moving exploration. His look at the network of roots below London's Epping Forest leads into a discussion of the recent discovery that trees share nutrients with neighboring trees that are ill or under stress, a finding consistent with new ideas about plant intelligence and a "wood wide web" of interconnected plant and fungal life. In another section, Macfarlane descends more than half a mile below the Yorkshire countryside to visit "a laboratory set into a band of translucent silver rock salt left behind by the evaporation of an epicontinental northern sea some 250 million years earlier," where a physicist is searching for proof of dark matter's existence. Here, too, Macfarlane makes counterintuitive concepts fully accessible while capturing the poetry beneath the science, describing the tangible world humans perceive "as mere mist and silk" in relation to dark matter. Perhaps most importantly, he places humanity's time on Earth in a geological context, revealing how relatively insignificant it is. Macfarlane's rich, evocative survey enables readers to view themselves "as part of a web... stretching over millions of years past and millions to come," and deepen their understanding of the planet.
Loved it. Absolutely fascinating.