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Book cover

  Islands of Abandonment: Life in the Post-Human Landscape is like a travelogue for places humans have abandoned, whether because of radiation, poison, extreme weather, natural disaster or depopulation. While I expected this book to be more about the nature reclaiming these places, with scientific emphasis on the species and the methods they use, instead it was a straight up documentary made by a reporter. You know, for the people, by the people, about the people.

  It's not a bad book, quite the contrary. Cal Flyn writes well and has no difficulties describing places and people from an accessible perspective. But that was the problem for me. I wasn't looking for an accessible human perspective from a book proclaiming to be about the "Post-Human Landscape".

  There are several chapters, each with its own theme. Some make you lose your faith in humanity, if you had any to begin with, while others make you actively want to destroy it. I found particularly poignant things like proposals to mildly poison or irradiate nature reserves in order to keep people and commercial interests out or the shooting of a particular breed of enwildened cattle on an island "by conservationists" or the chapters about factories making river water so polluted that it killed on contact and caught fire.

  However it felt a bit like a bait and switch. While a bit disappointed with their direction, I loved the first chapters of the book, relating to plants and animals reclaiming places like Chernobyl, but as the book was getting closer to its end, the chapters were more about people, their feelings, their reasons to leave, stay or return. The book still captures the magic of this wild places, but very little is about nature, the perspective is inherently humanistic and cultural, rather than scientific. Other than that, it was a decent book.


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