Like it says on the cover, it is the story of the Thai cave rescue told from the perspective of these two Australians at the centre of it.
A couple of things really lift this book. The first is that it is a great story, even if you know the basics of what happened. The second is the style in which it is written - these are authentic Australian voices, taking the job seriously but not themselves too seriously, plenty of humour, you almost feel the thing they are most proud of is sneaking past the Thai PM by hiding in an ambulance full of nurses. This is more like listening to a couple of blokes down the pub spinning a yarn than reading a book, and what a great yarn it is.
A wonderful telling of a truly unique and exceptional situation which had all the elements of a human disaster of epic proportion but transformed into a brilliantly executed rescue beyond all expectation and against insuperable odds to rescuing the 12 boys and their coach alive from their seemingly hopeless predicament. The dangerous obstacles and risks inherent in the Cave were sadly reflected in the death of the very experienced Thai Navy Seal Diver Saman Gunan.
From a suggestion conceived by the British Diver Rick Stanton, one of the two British Divers who found the boys, asking Dr Richard Harris whether he could sedate someone and dive them out of a situation grew the unprecented idea to completely anaesthetise the boys and coach and to then dive them out of the cave. Confronted by ethical and societal dilemmas and foreboding of monsoonal downpours which posed risks of flooding the cave and drowing everyone, Richard Harris narrates the tortuous efforts to have his rescue idea approved by the Thai authorities and the realities of implementing the daring plan.
The enormity of the daring and physically demanding events which had to be rerpeated 13 times is extraordinary and a testament to the bravery and endurance of every member involved in ther rescue and against insuperable odds.
A great read and wonderful insight into the feelings and thoughts of both Richard Harris and Craig Challen as they went about the rescue but also the other wonderful participants and the boys and their coach.
Like most people in the world I was following the rescue of 13 Thais from a flooded gave in June/July of 2018. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at following the news and got side-tracked by a whole lot of stuff happening in the Banking Royal Commission in Australia at the time. Other than knowing they got them out I didn’t know what ended up happening.
When I heard Dr Harry (Aussie’s, not to be confused with Dr Harry from Harry’s Practice) talking about his book on The Project it sounded fascinating. Hearing him talk about a couple of his experiences had me going “I have to read that!” The next day when I realised that’d be a great book to use as my final review for the year, the slot I had reserved for a male Aussie author, I just went ahead and bought it.
I’m gonna say it. Best decision ever!
From the moment I started reading the book I could feel both Harry’s and Craig’s personalities in every word I was reading. I could imagine the looks and the tones of voices being used. All of these came together to make me feel like I was right there in the cave with them.
A few times (ok, maybe more than a few times) I forgot that they all made it out alive, so when Harry was describing the issues they were facing (especially when diving them out) I honestly started worrying that they wouldn’t make it. Then I had that realisation that I’d had a blonde moment since this happened in real life and they actually did all make it out alive.
I take that as a testament to the writing and editing skills of all involved that in moments, I was so completely lost in what was happening I forgot the final outcome.
I also found myself pissing myself laughing at some of their antics and Harry’s thoughts. His sense of humour totally aligns with mine and I loved it. Then I’d have this moment where I go “I’m laughing while reading a book about an event that could have ended tragically, have some respect for what they all went through.” Then I’d remember what I’d just read and laugh again.
Some other points that I think really made this book was the way Harry and Craig gave us the truth compared to the media stories. How Elon Musk was brought up and scoffed at. And the inclusions of little facts about every boy, and Ekk, as they were getting them out made them real to me as I was reading about them getting out.
I’m not a crier, yet I found myself tearing up in happiness, sadness and in empathy of what they all went through so much. Whenever this happened, I had to take a moment and remind myself that it was a happy ending and it was ok.
Before finishing this book, I’d recommended it to two people and had been telling my partner what was happening as I went. One of the people I told bought it straight away and the other one said they’d buy it coz them and their husband would probably love it.
This book gives a frank insight into the involvement of the medical team involved in the rescue, and the possible and actual consequences of their decisions. We all know the outcome of course, but Dr Harrison was confronted with the very real possibility that none of the soccer team would survive, and he would gain infamy as the “Doctor who killed the boys”, a burden that would obviously change his life in all aspects into the future, elevating him into the company of Dr Shipton. As it was his father died suddenly whilst he was away. The recent death of a Thai Navy Seal from blood poisoning picked up in the cave also reinforces the tremendous risks taken.