Mole People: Life in the Tunnels beneath New York City

( 37 )

Overview

Thousands of people live in the subway, railroad, and sewage tunnels that form the bowels of New York City and this book is about them, the so-called mole people. They live alone and in communities, in subway tunnels and below subway platforms and this fascinating study presents how and why people move underground, who they are, and what they have to say about their lives and the “topside” world they’ve left behind.

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The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City

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Overview

Thousands of people live in the subway, railroad, and sewage tunnels that form the bowels of New York City and this book is about them, the so-called mole people. They live alone and in communities, in subway tunnels and below subway platforms and this fascinating study presents how and why people move underground, who they are, and what they have to say about their lives and the “topside” world they’ve left behind.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Toth pulls the reader into this netherworld. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal

"A fascinating book." —A Bookish Affair

Library Journal - BookSmack!
Like its filmic analog Dark Days, this now-classic read offers a sad, provocative experience. The titular moles live under New York City in abandoned subway and railroad tunnels, sewage and gas lines, and electrical conduits. There, they are relatively sheltered from bitter cold and face markedly less scorn, danger, and unrest than above ground. Toth gamely attempts to show people, not masses. When visiting their abodes, be careful to avoid the usual pleasantries ("Nice place you got here") and bear in mind that whether they are going it solo or living in an alliance or as a family, their average life expectancy is fewer than five years. ." Douglas Lord, "Books for Dudes," Booksmack! 10/7/10
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Toth's firsthand account of the sad, bizarre subculture of people who live in New York's abandoned subway tunnels and sewage lines. (Sept.)
Library Journal
``Mole people'' are the thousands of homeless people who live in the subway, railroad, and sewage tunnels of New York City. Drawing on her interviews with these tunnel dwellers, who speak candidly and demonstrate their humanness, journalist Toth pulls the reader into this nether world, revealing lives of addiction and abuse. She also portrays people who try to help, including a woman who teaches the children and a kind man known as the mayor who does all he can to help others survive. In providing a historical backround, Toth informs the reader that living underground was not always considered ``inhuman.'' Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-- Kevin Whalen, Montville Township P.L., N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556522413
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/28/1995
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 194,903
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Toth is a journalist and the author of Orphans of the Living: Stories of America's Children in Foster Care and What Happened to Johnnie Jordan?: The Story of a Child Turning Violent.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note ix
Introduction 1
1 Finding a Home 7
2 Seville's Story 11
3 Mac's War 29
4 The Underground Population 35
5 Underground Spaces 43
6 The Bowery 49
7 Living with the Law 59
8 Hell's Kitchen 73
9 Children 77
10 Roots 87
11 Bernard's Tunnel 97
12 Tunnel Art 119
13 Graffiti 129
14 Runaways 135
15 Tunnel Outreach 151
16 Dark Angel 165
17 The Underground in History, Literature, and Culture 169
18 Wanderers 181
19 Harlem Gang 183
20 J.C.'s Community 191
21 "City of Friends" 203
22 Women 213
23 Jamall's Story 229
24 Blade's Piece 237
Epilogue 249
Acknowledgments 255
Bibliography 257
Index 261
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 37 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(18)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2009

    Marginalization and Levels Within the Deepest Levels of Destitution

    Author/journalist takes one on a tour under one of the richest cities in the world, New York City (Manhattan), to see the lifestyle of thousands of the most impoverished types (mainly US citizens) from all walks of life whose lifespan in that domain is often less than six years. Within the tunnels are deeper and deeper levels, and those that live in the deepest sections have lost the vocal ability to even communicate except in grunts or so as the author states. Some of these underground dwellers are artists, some with advanced, fancy accredited USA university degrees that once held nice jobs, others are divorcees, families without jobs, and so on. Many of these dwellers state they were marginalized by society and did not choose that way of life but were pushed into it, and that lack of jobs and affordable housing, as well as every day NYC stress, made it more possible and easier for them to live in the tunnels. The more they live in those conditions, the less they are inclined to find better opportunities the book suggests, as they more easily rapidly adapt to their substandard living conditions in order to survive those immediate horrible conditions (but die early anyway) than try to make better for themselves and get out in the sun and live as humans.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2003

    Interesting but often trite

    I had heard many whispers of these subterranean dwellers on several occasions and I am sure this book chronicles only a portion of the thousands who surely seek a "home" below ground. It does well to highlight the relative sophistication of these people, all things considered, and certainly their resourcefulness in utilizing things most of us have long since abandoned use of. The people are, on the whole, jarringly human, however, and the communities they fashion are like hyperbolized versions of many 'upstairs' - their problems merely magnified by the fact that they live in such a bluntly Darwinian environment. The writing itself is not terribly compelling and the book often reads much like a report or case study, which in effect is what I expected. As the book wears on however, Toth's doe-eyed lack of perspective grows evermore annoying, and despite her efforts to hide it, it eventually becomes glaringly evident that this book is written by a well-to-do, white, Ivy League college-educated woman with little perspective on the real world. Her idealistic views on these people and their problems/lives are maddening at times and it unfortunately ends up tainting a rather interesting book on a compelling, fascinating subject. By the end I felt myslef siding with Blade!! Borrow it - don't buy it.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Intriguing

    A dark and curious book. I spent many hours reflecting on what life would be like underground. For those of you who had your interest peaked due to this book, try watching the movie "Dark Days", a documentary about an abandoned NYC railroad tunnel.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2000

    If you believe all of this, seek help.

    I expected to find this book to be a reasonable piece of journalistic work about people living in the tunnels of NYC. I finished reading it feeling absolutely amazed that the author and publisher pass this work off as nonfiction. The many characters she describes just read as pure fiction, and the thought of her exploring the tunnels by herself meeting hundreds of people and not getting hurt or worse is beyond belief. In the final chapter she is literally chased out of NYC by her former tunnel-dweling friend, 'Blade,' who is now out to kill her! Get real. This book is a terrible disappointment and an insult to serious journalistic reporters.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2012

    New Take on Homeless

    Mole People is a look at the unknown world of the homeless. The trials of all concerned, both officials and the homeless themselves. This book is the Sacramento Library book for August, and will undoubtably cause a great discussion.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2009

    Should be Fiction

    Please, people. Google this author and this work and you will find the facts to be unverified and highly dramatized. There is an element of truth in the premise, but this is non-fiction only in the same sense "A Million Little Pieces" is..

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2009

    A fascinating journey thru a world most will never have the opportunity to visit

    You knew there was something under the streets of NYC, however, none could have imagined the depth "The Mole People" discloses. A city under the city, under the city, and perhaps another level below this is a facinating look at some of the greatest survivors of modern day. The people with whom you come in contact are just as intresting and alive as those who walk the streets, live in the apartments, work in the office buidlings,ride the rails and travel the busy streets above ground in NYC each day.

    This book takes us on a fascinating journey thru a world most of us would be fearful of visiting. I am so happy I made the trip.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2003

    Fascinating, Enthralling, Thrilling and Captivating

    Enthralling...are the stories of the mole people. Fascinating...are the relationship dynamics between mole people and their communities. Thrilling...how the author dared enter the mole people's domain. Captivating...I felt like I met everyone of them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2003

    Captivating

    i read this book after visiting California a few weeks ago. This girl stated to me that she thought all homeless people in New York live underground. I was wondering why she would say such a thing. Then i read this book. It is very well written and gives the reader a better understanding of what the homeless population has to indure.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 1999

    Mole People????????

    Once you pick this book up, there is no putting it down, be prepared for what is on the insides of the cover, It will give you a whole new outlook about what it is to be homeless, or to have sudden changes happen in your life for the worse, Meet the people and hear there stories about what it's like to live UNDERGROUND, I highly recommend this book for any curious readers out there to get a taste of something real and hardcore..............

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2012

    Humanity lost...!

    I , by chance read this book back in 94, and could not believe that this was posible. It struck a cord in my heart with a deep sense of sorrow and disbelief. Read this book it will move you to tears , if not , at least it will instill a feeling of regained humanity and a need to help others in need...R. Cruz

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  • Posted December 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    False! False! False!

    I have read this book. I work here in NYC and have for the last 30 years. My father was born and worked in this city for twice as long. This book is ka-ka. Ms. Toth watched too many episodes of Beauty and the Beast. There are NO seven levels below Grand Central. There is no underground forest of trees! Before you buy this book, speak to a REAL New Yorker who will tell you this book is bull****! Ms. Toth made up three quarters of it. And the sad fact? If Ms. Toth had actually gone and visited all the places that homeless people in this City congregate and done a little research, she might have actually written a powerful book. Instead, she chose to pass off fiction as reality and leave the City before she could be found out to be a fraud. All libraries and schools should remove this book from their shelves or shelve it under 'Fiction.'

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2002

    Gripping

    I live in New Jersey shadowed by the great city of New York so of course the title of this book grabed my attention. From start to finish the book was so gripping I couldnt put it down. The author does a great job sharing the stories of the lost souls they call the Mole people.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2002

    This is real!!!

    I grew up on the NJ Pailsades cliffs and can say I've met a few of these people myself. That this waif of a woman dared to document this story is a marvel in and of itself. Considering that this was written back in '93 and their population was then estimated at 50,000 it's a wake up call for anyone living in a major city.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2002

    Amazing

    I thought that this book was excellent. I think that most of the book was based on fact. I've read many reviews that felt the book was fiction, but I don't agree. I thought that it was well written and overall an amazing book. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in New York City or homelessness in general.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2002

    Riveting

    This is a scintillating account of hundreds of people who eke out a living in the bowels of New York City, unbeknownst to the millions of surface dwellers. I've heard lots of doubters, naysayers and jealous tunnel-Nazis try to debunk the existence of the Mole People over the years, but their presence has been confirmed in numerous documentaries and films. This book was the first to describe the lives of the Mole People, and remains the best of the genre, in my opinion. Toth deserves a Pulitzer Prize for risking her life to tell us this incredible story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews

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