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Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers' Favorite
Underground and Radioactive: Adventures of a Uranium Miner in 1970s New Mexico by R.D. Saunders is a memoir that is so aptly and succinctly described in the sub-title. The author recreates, in excellent prose and with vivid clarity, the joys and perils, the almost forgotten memories of those associated with the “Uranium Capital of the World” as they ventured underground in 1970s New Mexico. Beginning with a mining accident that almost convinced him his underground adventures would be over, the author leads readers into what it felt like, smelled like, and looked like to work as a uranium miner.
The writing is beautiful and it opens an entire world and experience to readers; the prose leaps off the pages of the book with unusual elegance, and it is sprinkled with vivid descriptions of tools, machinery, and processes, allowing the reader to have a complete picture of what mining looked like in the ‘70s. From the preface, the reader already feels how intimate the author is with the experience when he writes: “There is no other fragrance or resonance I know equal to that produced by the Jackleg rock drill operating at full bore; no other sight that matches that of walking up to a miner sitting atop a couple of hundred pounds of dynamite and casually finishing up his cigarette; and no more colorful characters than miners who spent the majority of their working lives underground.” R.D. Saunders offers exciting stories, builds memorable characters, and makes history come alive in Underground and Radioactive: Adventures of a Uranium Miner in 1970s New Mexico.