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Published: Sunday, 4/13/2003

Morton tells dramatic rescue story


NINE FOR NINE: THE PENNSYLVANIA MINE RESCUE MIRACLE. By Andrew Morton. Michael O'Mara Books. 192 pages. $14.95.

But capture the essence he did. To his credit, Morton - known for his books about Princess Diana, Monica Lewinsky, and Madonna - has crafted a wonderful page-turner.

That's not to say his book will necessarily stand the test of time and become the definitive text on the issue. Others have recently been published, and more are likely to come.

One in particular that was recently released is simply titled Our Story. The surviving miners collectively worked with author Jeff Goodell to tell their story in their own words. Goodell, a former staff writer at Rolling Stone and a contributor to the New York Times Magazine, also writes commentary for National Public Radio.

Many news articles pointed out how this heroic rescue seemed so unlikely, and how it captured the nation's imagination while Americans were still reeling from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Luck had to prevail. And it did.

In some respects, the drama of this rescue almost writes itself. But Morton shows the value of exceptional writing and investigative reporting skills in this heartfelt book. Morton brings the reader so close to the Pennsylvania miner community that he seems a part of it. He does not come off as the outsider who came in and got key people to confide in him. He deftly interprets what this rescue meant to the American psyche at large as well as to Pennsylvania itself.

The writing is tight, the story is well-executed, and the prose is compelling.

Others could very well offer something different. But - as in life - a lot of publishing success is sheer timing. This was one of the first books out about the heartwarming rescue. It clearly doesn't read like something that was whipped up overnight, despite its relatively quick turnaround.

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