Selected Book Reviews - Newest

Here are some book reviews that will tell you how our books have been received. Check back often for the latest information. Just click on any title below to go directly to reviews of that book. Click on "cover" to see a small image of the cover. Or just scroll down to read the reviews of the newest releases. All of them are great.

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New Books

Alpine Karst 2003, Alpine Karst 2004

Beyond Mammoth Cave

Hidden Beneath the Mountains:

The Life and Death of Floyd Collins (Cover)

Prehistoric Cavers of Mammoth Cave

Scary Stories of Mammoth Cave

True Tales of Terror in the Caves of the World

Cave Geology


Caver Favorites

The Art of Caving (Cover)

Atlas of the Great Caves of the World (Cover)

Carlsbad, Caves, and a Camera (Cover)

Cave Passages: Roaming the Underground Wilderness (Cover)

Caverns Measureless to Man (Cover)


The Darkness Beckons (Cover) Supplement to the Revised Edition

Deep Secrets: The Discovery and Exploration of Lechuguilla Cave (Cover)

Emergence (Cover)

Going Under and Endurance: An Antarctic Idyll, Two Poems (a double volume)

A Guide to Speleological Literature of the English Language 1974 -1996 (Cover)

The Jewel Cave Adventure: Fifty Miles of Discovery Under South Dakota (Cover)

Les Animaux des Gouffres et des Cavernes (Cover)

Memoirs of a Speleologist: The Adventurous Life of a Famous French Cave Explorer (Cover)


South China Caves (Cover)

Speleology: Caves and the Cave Environment (Cover)

Subterranean Climbers: Twelve Years in the World's Deepest Chasm

Ten Years Under the Earth (Cover)

Yochib: The River Cave (Cover)



Kentucky Favorites & Cave Research Foundation

Archeology of the Mammoth Cave Area (Cover)

Wilderness Resources in Mammoth Cave National Park: A Regional Approach (Cover)

The Grand Kentucky Junction

The Longest Cave (Cover)

A Geological Guide to Mammoth Cave National Park (Cover)

Rambles in the Mammoth Cave, During the Year 1844, by a Visiter (Cover)


Grand, Gloomy, and Peculiar: Stephen Bishop at Mammoth Cave






Coming Next...


Cave Biology

Cave Books Out of Stock or Out of Print

 New Books Now On Hand

Grand, Gloomy, and Peculiar: Stephen Bishop at Mammoth Cave

by Roger W. Brucker. 2009.

xxx pp. 8 ½ x 11
ISBN 978-0-939748-72-3. $21.95 hardback (alk. paper)

ISBN 978-0-939748-71-6. $15.95 paperback (alk. paper)




By C. William Steele. 2009.
xxx photos, xxx figures, xxx maps and diagrams
6" x 9", 305 pages (or 269 pages?)
ISBN 978--0-939748-70-9. $24.95 hardback, perma-bound (no dust jacket)

This book is far more than an account of incredible exploration. It is a thought-provoking book that chronicles the 32-year investigation of Sistema Huautla—a seven-cave system in the Mexico state of Oaxaca. At -1,475 meters (-4,839 feet) Sistema Huautla is the twelfth deepest cave in the world with 20 entrances and 62 kilometers (39 miles) of passages. Cave exploration is something out of the ordinary that requires equally extraordinary effort to handle it. In other words, it can be serious stuff, especially in places like Sistema Huautla where death just “licks it chops” at a miscue. As might be expected, people like Steele wouldn’t be wandering these underground chasms unless they were “pretty darn good.”

As Steele tells us, egos are high; demand for expertise is even higher. The mix can lead to personal drama as well as incredible feats of exploration. It is all in this book. I might add that this story is entirely played out in the shroud of eternal darkness. Steele, whose name is synonymous with Mexico cave exploration, joined this effort in 1977 and has been with it ever since. He can also write. If you have ever been just a little curious about these odd ducks who live for the stygian places on our planet, or have though about what it would be like to be somewhere as remote as the surface of the Moon with a mountain wrapped around you, this book will set you firmly on the edge of your seat.

Review by Jim Chester in the Winter 2009-2010 Explorer's Journal





 Cave Geology

by Arthur N. Palmer. 2007.
561 photos, 760 figures, 250 maps and diagrams
454 pp. 8 ½ x 11
ISBN 978-0-939748-66-2. $38.95 hb

Cave Geology is the definitive book on the subject by an internationally recognized authority. It can be easily understood by non-scientists but also covers a wide range of topics in enough detail to be used by advanced researchers. Illustrated with more than 500 black-and-white photographs and 250 diagrams and maps, this book is dedicated to anyone with an interest in caves and their origin.

Topics within the fifteen chapters include: cave science and exploration, karst landscapes, cavernous rocks, karst groundwater and chemistry, characteristics of solution caves, cave origin, relation of caves to geologic setting, cave minerals, caves in volcanic rocks, cave meteorology and internal weathering, dating caves, field techniques, and relation of cave studies to other sciences. Also included is a detailed glossary, reference, and index.

Arthur N. Palmer is former director of the Water Resources program at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oneonta, where he is Professor Emeritus of Hydrology and Geochemistry. He and his wife Peggy have been involved with cave and karst studies for several decades and are both honorary members of the National Speleological Society. Art has received the Science Award from the National Speleological Society, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Karst Waters Institute, SUNY Chancellor's Award for teaching and research, and a Distinguished Teaching Professorship. He is a member of the Cave Research Foundation and British Cave Research Association, a fellow of the Geological Society of America and a GSA Kirk Bryan Award recipient. He also teaches a summer course on Karst Geology for Western Kentucky University at Mammoth Cave National Park.


Alpine Karst in the beginning 2003

Edited By Tina Oliphant:

Cave Books, Dayton OH.

Alpine Karst Volume 8, 2003. Paperback, 216 pages, 8.5 by 11 inches, 44 maps, 17 figures, 61 b/w photos. Color front and back covers. ISBN978-0-939748-68-6.

Available from Alpine Karst Foundation for $19.00 plus shipping at

The original Alpine Karst newsletters of the 1970s were an ambitious project to collect data on the major alpine karst areas of North America (and to a lesser extent, other alpine regions of the world). Finally the first 4 issues from the 1970s are a once again available. With beautiful full-cover cardstock covers, this valuable collection includes not only the newsletters but also contributions from the original series editors--Chuck Pease, Jim Chester and Ron Zuber-- recalling their editorships and the travails of producing those original issues. For good measure, the editor, Tina Oliphant, has also included two widely-read articles from Frank Binney's Inside Earth series. The articles describe early activities by author Jim Chester in Lost Creek Siphon (Montana) and Norm Pace's review of exploration in Montana's Scapegoat Wilderness Area. Both areas have seen considerable interest in the new century with Lost Creek Siphon finally being mapped in 2001 after nearly 30 years efforts and Scapegoat the focus of recent summer and winter "expedition" caving to push the area caves.

Alpine Karst; in the beginning offers us a literary time capsule of wilderness caving exploits and information that feels as fresh and relevant today as it no doubt felt during those halcyon days of the 1970s when the original issues were published.

Needless to say, this material is today nearly unobtainable any other way. Great vintage stuff!



Alpine Karst 2004

Edited By Tina Oliphant

Color covers, 82 b/w photos, 21 maps, 3 foldout maps, 11 graphics, 130 pp. 8.5 x 11 (Cover)

ISBN 0-939748-62-2 $14.00 pb

Alpine Karst was last published in the 1970s. Four issues were produced from 1975 to 1978. The publication focused on the unique challenges and rewards of exploring and documenting caves located in the alpine regions of US, Canada, and Europe. It also featured articles on advanced caving techniques, geology, and equipment. Most alpine caves are located in wilderness areas adding interesting dimensions to the explorations and articles.

This issue of Alpine Karst continues the classic stories of exploration and science as one reads of groans, llamas, skis, toboggans, rafts, mountain bikes, scuba flippers, the Grizzly, and some very sore feet. And in the end, we survive to explore and document the caves. Articles of science and exploration are included from Utah (the complete account of exploration of Nielsons Cave), California, Montana, Alaska, Colorado, Austria, and Canada. Vertical techniques and new options for wetsuit technology are explored. Two geology articles and a generous amount of photos and maps accompany the publication.









Hidden Beneath the Mountains:

The Caves of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks


By Joel Despain. 2003.

97 color, 9 b/w photos, 10 maps, 128 pp. 8 x 11

ISBN 0-939748-56-8 $12.95 pb (Cover)

Hidden Beneath the Mountains: The Caves of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is a new book about the amazing caves in this mountainous region of California by National Park Cave Specialist Joel Despain. The 128 page, large-format volume focuses on the larger caves of the parks and describes their fascinating human history, the rare and strange animals that live in the caves, and the role of these caves in science.

The book is richly illustrated with color photos of beautiful cave formations, stunning marble banding, and the wonderful mountains that contain the caves. Hidden Beneath the Mountains also includes many cave maps and graphics illustrating the geology that makes caves.

"Caves excite our imaginations, fuel our adventurous spirits, and beckon us toward unknown worlds in the hearts of hollow mountains. In this book, Joel Despain takes us deep into California's caves of the Sierra Nevada and regales us with tales of exploration and science. Once you open the cover, like a true caver, you will not be able to stop reading until you have explored every passage and shed light on the great mysteries to be found under the earth."--Ronal Kerbo, National Cave Management Coordinator, National Park Service.

"This is it! Everything you ever wanted to know about caves of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks-history, exploration, discovery and natural history-is here. A comprehensive and detailed survey of subterranean wonders."--Dr. Brad Hacker, Professor of Geological Sciences, University of California.









Beyond Mammoth Cave


 by James D. Borden and Roger W. Brucker

Pub. 2000. 355 pp.

 ISBN 0-8093-2346-X $26.95 pb, $59.95 hb

Beyond Mammoth Cave: A Tale of Obsession in the World's Longest Cave provides gripping first-person accounts of the discoveries, including Roppel Cave, that made Kentucky's Mammoth Cave three times longer than any other cave in the world.

Borden, a relative newcomer, and Brucker, a veteran explorer, bring a personal and sometimes conflicting view of their roles as adversaries in a race that lasted from 1972 through 1983 to find "big cave." They describe hazardous adventures, precarious climbs, and close calls from falling rocks. The perils are many and the trek arduous as they squirm through muddy tubes, wade in neck-deep cold water, and crawl over sharp rocks and gritty sand. Theirs is a tale of agonizing endurance spiced by spectacular discoveries.

But the cave was not the sole obstacle. The explorations were complicated by political intrigue and the rivalry between the Kentucky-based Cave Research Foundation and the Central Kentucky Karst Coalition, each seeking to make discoveries and hide secrets. Extreme stress, of course, evoked extreme behavior, ranging from selfishness to sacrifice, from outrageous humor to the deadly serious response.

Beyond Mammoth Cave includes maps by Patricia Kambesis that show the progression of cave discoveries in relation to the topography. Original line drawings by well-known illustrator Linda Heslop capture the dark mystery of the exploration. The book features five black and white photographs and a color gallery of photographs.


"Beyond Mammoth Cave will appeal to both cave explorers and armchair explorers.... It is a story that draws one in and is an honest look at real exploration by ordinary people who have ordinary faults but become obsessive and legitimate explorers. The conflicts are real and add a credible and cohesive level of detail to the description of the events."

- Emily Davis Mobley, coeditor of A Guide to Speleological Literature of the English Language: 1794-1996


A sequel to The Longest Cave by Brucker and Richard A. Watson, this book is a comprehensive update of the speleological investigations in the Mammoth Cave region. Brucker's involvement provides continuity to the investigations.






The Life and Death of Floyd Collins

by his brother Homer Collins

as told to John Lehrberger in 1955.

ISBN 0-939748-xxx $14.95 hb (Cover)

ISBN 0-939748-517 $10.95 pb

This is a family story of America's most famous cave explorer who was trapped and died in Sand Cave in 1925. That story has been told many times, but never before has the complete life of Floyd Collins been presented. Floyd's younger brother Homer tells how Floyd was fascinated with caves from his childhood, of his discovery of the famous Crystal Cave on the home property, and of the rescue attempts from the viewpoint of a brother so devoted that his extraordinary efforts to save Floyd were rewarded by his being removed from the premises while others inexperienced in working in caves carried on the unsuccessful attempt. It is a warm story of a man whose love in life was exploring caves, a man who endured his grim death with dignity and pride in his vocation.









Scary Stories of Mammoth Cave

by Colleen O'Connor Olson

and Charles Hanion

ISBN 0-939748-54-1 $7.95 pb

It's S P O O K Y !

As you enter the world's longest cave you cannot help but wonder about scary stories. Two centuries of tourists and explorers--some of whom got lost, saw or heard the unexplainable, or just wanted to tell a good tale--cannot leave a cave without stories. Scary Stories of Mammoth Cave is a collection of nineteenth and twentieth century fiction, historical and more recent first hand accounts of unusual experiences by National Park Service employees, cave explorers, and scientists.

Colleen O'Connor Olson has been a Mammoth Cave guide since 1993, and has worked at other National Park service sites including Gulf Islands National Seashore and Grand Canyon National Park. Olson's BA in communication is from Central Washington University. Most of her writing has been directed towards improving programs for park visitors.

Charles Hanion is a career park ranger at Mammoth Cave National Park. He has also worked at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Russell Cave National Monument. Hanion's BA in Anthropology is from University of Tennessee. His research and writing specialties include archaeology, folk history and unusual phenomena.

Among the many intriguing mysteries of Mammoth Cave are sightings of ghostly figures that appear now and again along major tour routes. Perhaps they watch us through a portal in time, long separated from the physical world in which the living reside. They belong to the shadows and darkness of the cave world, and to the human mind, which catches glimpses of these denizens of the netherworld. Perhaps they are simply projections of our own fears and imaginations. The stories in this book provide glimpses into this shadowy world of Mammoth Cave. Illumination is provided only by the flame of our desire to know what the cave itself knows.











Prehistoric Cavers of Mammoth Cave 

by Colleen O'Connor Olson, 2004

22 photos, 64 pp. 5 x 8

ISBN 0-939748-58-4 $6.95 pb

Four thousand years ago, long before modern people set foot in Kentucky, Native Americans ventured into Mammoth Cave's dark passages, lighting the way with cane torches. Who were these ancient people, and why did they risk their lives to enter such a foreboding place?

Artifacts such as torch fragments, slippers, baskets, drawings, and even mummified remains of these brave explorers reveal some answers about the prehistoric people who were the ancient world's greatest cavers.  

Prehistoric Cavers of Mammoth Cave takes us into the lives of these ancient people who lived near Mammoth Cave and unravels some of the mysteries of their journeys through the dark and winding passages of the world's longest cave.

Since 1993, National Park interpretive ranger Colleen O'Connor Olson has been presenting programs for park visitors above and below ground at Mammoth Cave National Park. She has also worked at Gulf Islands National Seashore and Grand Canyon Nation Park. Colleen and fellow ranger Charles Hanion wrote Scary Stories of Mammoth Cave, a collection of spooky tales from underground.


"A much-needed summary of pre-Columbian exploration in the world's longest cave: written expressly for the general public, enjoyable to read, and with careful attention to the archaeological evidence." --Patty Jo Watson, Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri










 True Tales of Terror in the Caves of the World

 By Paul Jay Steward


ISBN 0-939748-61-4 $10.95 pb


They say that truth is stranger than fiction, and this book proves it. These stories will stretch the imaginations of the best fiction writers. Discover which cave contains the remains of more than 30,000 people, or the cave in which the police find a woman's body cut into eight pieces, and her head encased in cement. Can you imagine entering a cave and finding human limbs hanging from the walls and ceiling, and barrels of remains pickled for human consumption? How about finding a cave whose walls were painted with the blood from torture victims, or the ceiling blackened from the burning of human flesh? The stories in this book will take you on a journey across the globe and into the depths of the Earth where some of the most vile and cruelest acts imaginable have been committed. You have been warned.

"Paul Steward tells a must-read set of cave stories that will scare the daylights out of you while the horror will impel you to turn the pages fast. Yes, caves are dangerous and can snuff out lives in a wink, and this heightens the emotional impact of this book. It intertwines the mysteries of caves and motives and will cause readers to think deeply about the role of alienation between environments and relationships."

-Roger W. Brucker, Coauthor of Beyond Mammoth Cave; Trapped! The Story of Floyd Collins; The Longest Cave; The Caves Beyond


"In this remarkable compilation and examination of the topic, Steward takes the reader on a tour-de-force journey into the darkest recesses and depths of the earth, of the human mind, and of human cruelty."

-Wm. Michael Mott, Author of Caverns, Cauldrons, and Concealed Creatures


"Paul Steward's new book is not one that you want to read while deep underground-for you will soon be afraid to stay there! This collection of horrific stories from around the globe is a unique volume of chilling tales."

-Troy Taylor, Author of Down in the Darkness



New Cave Books Coming Soon

send us your manuscript! 

Last Year's Introduction to Speleology is morphing into two books

Two noted cave researchers, a geologist and a biologist, present the science of speleology in all its detail, splendor, and excitement. Few experiences are more downright fun than those of exploring caves, and when the further thrills of scientific discovery and research are added to this exotic environment, the results are spectacular. In their very comprehensive, well illustrated, and totally readable books, Art Palmer and Kathy Lavoie provide an introduction to the science of speleology that has engaged them most of their adult lives. The books are first of all fascinating and entertaining, but are also ideal as textbooks for semester-long courses in speleology. These are books for anyone who has ever been intrigued by the sight or thought of that cave entrance they saw somewhere in a limestone bluff and wondered what was inside.


 Cave Biology

by Kathleen H. Lavoie

Still in the works


CaveBooks Published In-Print

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Rev. 4-8-2018 ..... contents ...... home page ...... In-print