Teun Voeten Books

tunnel people teun voeten

Tunnel People

By Teun Voeten | 2010

By the end of the millennium, thousands of homeless people roamed the streets of Manhattan. A small group of them went underground. Invisible to society, they managed to start a new life in the tunnel systems of the city. Acclaimed war photographer and cultural anthropologist Teun Voeten gained unprecedented access to this netherworld. For five months in 1994 and 1995 he lived, slept and worked in a tunnel underneath Manhattan's posh Upper West Side. With him, we meet Vietnam veterans, macrobiotic hippies, crack addicts, Cuban refugees, convicted killers, computer programmers, philosophical recluses and criminal runaways. Voeten describes their daily work, problems and pleasures with humor and compassion. He also witnessed the end of tunnel life. The tunnel people were evicted in 1996, but Amtrak and homeless organizations offered them alternative housing. Some succeeded in starting again above ground, while others failed.

In this updated version of the book (2010), Voeten tracks down the original tunnel dwellers and describes what has happened in the thirteen years since they left the tunnels.

Tunnel People became an instant classic in the Netherlands when it came out in 1996. It was praised as an anthropological journalistic insiders account, that in a brutally honest and graphic way describes all the ins and outs of homeless life in the mid-nineties in New York.


Tunnel People
English translation published August, 2010 at PM Press, Oakland, CA
Pages: 320, includes one map and one 16-page b&w photo insert
ISBN: 978 1 60486 070 2
Price: $ 24.95

Originally published 1996 by Atlas, Amsterdam
Pages: 304 pages, including 32 photos
ISBN: 90 254 0866 4

Tunnelmensen E-book
De Ondergrondse Daklozen van New York. Published 2013 by Fosfor, Amsterdam
Pages: Updated and rewritten, including 32 photos
ISBN: 97 894 6225 0802


May we suggest you support your local bookstore and order through them?

You can also order Tunnel People directly from the web store of PM Press.

The Dutch, updated E-book version of Tunnelmensen can be ordered directly through this link on the Dutch book site Bol.

The book is available as well through Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Bol.com and most other book sites.

Signed copies and out-of-print editions are available directly through the author. Just send an email

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Read a chapter from Tunnelpeople

Suicide on Christmas Night On Christmas Eve. The author plans to visit long term tunnel dweller and Vietnam veteran Joe, but he becomes witness to a suicide and has to operate on a wounded dog.
PDF version English
PDF versie Nederlands
tunnel people teun voeten

Editorial Reviews and Advance Praise for Tunnel People

"Teun Voeten has found yet another frontier in the great American experiment - the one underground, in the tunnels of Manhattan - and delivered it to us in an utterly charming and fascinating account. Part anthropologist and part journalist, Voeten dwells in a unknown world that most of us simply pass by in a hurry. To fully know America, one most follow Voeten into her depths. There is much there to admire and, yes, to learn from"
--Sebastian Junger, bestselling author of "The Perfect Storm" and "War"

"This book is so brilliant because it's written from the perspective of an insider, from someone who actually lived in the tunnel they are writing about, someone who actually spent time in the darkness, scavenged for food out of the garbage and literally slipped between the cracks in the pavement and into a place of true invisibility. Voeten is not someone who just poked his head in and squeaked, "hello?" into the darkness."
--Marc Singer, maker of the award winning tunnel documentary "Dark Days"

"Finally, after countless portrayals of one of the most highly publicized existences, Voeten is to be commended for his honest and explicit view of New York's underworld. I salute his efforts and sacrifices to the highest."
--Bernard Monte Isaac aka Lord of the Tunnel, former tunnel resident

"Voeten is no doubt one of the most adventurous reporters in the Netherlands"
--Vrij Nederland, NL

"Voeten resists the temptation to sensationalize and romanticize the underground tunnel people. Nor is his book sentimental... It is a sober and well-written report about the mean misery underground: That makes this book so powerful."
--De Volkskrant, NL

"Tunnel People is a supreme example of participatory observation. The insider's point of view comes here to full light in a brilliant way. It is not an objective case-study, but a subjective, journalistic reportage, right to the point of an incredible dynamic, human underworld that is nowhere being sensationalized nor romanticized by Voeten..."
--Passage Magazine, NL

To arrange an interview with author Teun Voeten, please contact: PM Press, Craig O Hara
E-mail: craig@pmpress.org

teun voeten books

In 1994, Voeten started a photo reportage on the underground homeless in New York. This eventually became his first book. ’Tunnelmensen’ (1996) was published in Dutch by Atlas, Amsterdam. It appeared in an updated and translated version in 2010 in the USA.

Voeten made three photo books: ‘A Ticket To’ (1999), a dark, somber book with black and white photos from the conflicts in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. ‘Narco Estado, Drug Violence in Mexico’ (2012) depicts the horrible violence in strong color photos. 'New York, New York' (2005, 2021) features his architectural work he has been shooting since 1989.

After being nearly killed by doped up child soldiers in the civil war in Sierra Leone, Voeten wrote ‘How de Body? Hope and Horror in Sierra Leone’ which appeared in the Netherlands (2000) and the USA (2002). A Chines translation is in the making.

His PhD research resulted in the academic publication ‘The Mexican Drug Violence Hybrid Warfare, Predatory Capitalism and the Logic of Cruelty’ (2018). A Dutch journalistic version appeared the same year. In 2020, Small Wars Journal/El Centro published a completely rewritten, edited and updated version of this study.

In 2019, the city of Antwerp commissioned him to research drug related crime. This resulted eventually in ‘DRUGS. Antwerpen in de greep van de Nederlandse syndicaten’ (2020).

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