Secrets Underground: North America’s Buried Past

Elizabeth MacLeod
Target Age

Millions of people go about their daily business, unaware of the secrets from the past that lie beneath their feet. A forgotten city, underground tunnels, sailing ships, ­nuclear shelters, abandoned railway cars—all these hidden mysteries are explored in Elizabeth MacLeod’s Secrets Underground: North America’s Buried Past.

With consummate skill honed in her many books of high-quality non-fiction, MacLeod guides readers through six subterranean secrets; from the lost city of Tenochtitlán under Mexico City to the Cold War government bomb shelter in West Virginia. She provides the historical context for each fascinating story, and includes intriguing sidebars for the curious reader such as “The Disappearing Nightclub,” “That Giant Ground Sloth,” and “Villages Lost Underwater.”  Numerous archival photographs and paintings compliment the text, which is succinct and ripe with telling details, including rumours of Al Capone sightings underground in Moose Jaw and the exact value of the gold nuggets swallowed by one chicken in San Francisco ($400!!).

Underground secrets is a large subject, and these stories touch on several weighty themes: the destruction of a city by a conquering army, the American Civil War, the Gold Rush, racist policies against Chinese workers, Prohibition, German spies during the Second World War, and the Cold War. Without a strong throughline, however, the sheer scope of the subject matter can be somewhat overwhelming. Nevertheless, the stories in this book are well researched and thought-provoking, providing an illuminating glimpse into the dark history buried under our daylight world.

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