A scattershot but revealing dig beneath our planet’s surface, illustrated with a mix of photos and schematic cutaways.
The book opens with a cross-section of the Earth’s crust showing multiple geological processes, from fossil-strewn continental plates sliding together to columns of rising magma (rendered, oddly, in magenta). The tour goes on past subterranean sights from prehistoric and Pompeian remnants to natural caves and cave life, tombs, urban infrastructure and underground cities, and other structures. Price adds introductory paragraphs and explanatory captions to each busy spread. The captions are numbered on some spreads, which compensates, at least in part, for the way the photos are often slapped down over or next to the drawings without much regard for visual unity or logical progression. Topical coverage and level of detail are likewise unsystematic—the naked mole rat gets one full spread while all other burrowing animals are crowded onto another, for instance. Of major city undergrounds, only those of Paris and Tokyo get a look, and a closing spread on the future of building beneath the surface suddenly moves…to Mars.
Sheds plenty of light into dark places, but best for flip-through browsing, as the tunneling goes in arbitrary directions. (index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)