From Publishers Weekly
Mycio takes us on a timely tour of the eerie, surprisingly vigorous area around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that's too radioactive for safe human habitation, yet where, 20 years after the explosion, flora and fauna are "thriving." Among abandoned towns, thousands of cormorants nest, and Przewalskis, a breed of wild horse, live seemingly unharmed on irradiated grass. A few people remain: workers decommissioning the plant, bureaucrats and scientists struggling with chronic underfunding, and samosels
, elderly squatters so homesick that Ukraine finally let them stay. Mycio, former Kiev correspondent for the L.A. Times
, is a good guide, clearly conveying the niceties of radionuclides; the elaborate, jerry-built structures containing the worst of the radiation; and the impossibility of cleaning the place up. She finds occasional humor and plenty of astonishment, as when a herd of red deer cross her path: "My recorder preserved my inarticulate reaction: 'Super. Wow. My God, they're beautiful!' " Mycio gives plenty of fuel for the discussion of nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuel. Not all readers will share her cautious optimism, yet her verdict, that Chernobyl is not simply a disaster but a terrible paradox, is convincing. B&w photos, map.
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"...a completely unexpected piece of natural history. ...Mycio displays only the best and most consistent journalistic instincts..." -- Providence Journal, September 25, 2005
"...tourists, (are) participating in what may be the strangest vacation... the packaged tour of the Chernobyl exclusion zone..." -- C.J. Chivers, New York Times, June, 2005
"A fascinating look at an isolated area that few will ever visit
" -- Library Journal, September 15, 2005
"Mary Mycio takes the reader on a fascinating personal journey through a contaminated landscape that paradoxically thrives with wildlife." -- David Holley, Moscow correspondent, Los Angeles Times
"The new Chernobyl wilderness -- radioactive, yet greenly blooming -- has one of the strangest stories in the modern world." -- Bruce Sterling, author of Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years