SUMMARY: Capturing for posterity the vanishing world of uranium mining, this candid memoir recounts the author’s adventures and misadventures working underground in 1970s New Mexico, the “Uranium Capital of the World.”
ThHE BOOKVIRAL REVIEW: A fascinating precis of an extraordinary life with singularly unique characters Underground and Radioactive makes for a highly enjoyable, illuminating and educating read with Saunders taking us back to the mid-seventies when uranium mining was at its peak. An honest and lyrical account of his experiences of life hundreds of feet below ground he begins his mining memories as he takes us on his first cage ride as a greenhorn labourer through to his time as a fully certified miner and you can be sure he hasn’t pulled any punches. This was life at the sharp end where life and death were often a hairsbreadth apart but far from being a cautionary account, Saunders injects plenty of levity and heartfelt emotion as he introduces us to a host of colourful characters. Some transient and others like Cal Cargill who had a profound influence on him. These were hard men, hewed by the rigours of a hostile environment but for those who made the grade, there was a tremendous sense of camaraderie. This comes across strongly in Saunders reflections, especially in his accounts of accidents and near misses, and the unexplained phenomenon of a mysterious light which leads to rumours of a haunting in the mine.
As with other types of hard rock mining, there are several methods of uranium extraction but underground mining has to be the most fascinating and by recounting his experiences Saunders adds another enlightening footnote to the annals of Uranium Mining history. A unique and highly enjoyable read it is recommended without reservation.