- Series: Vintage Departures
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (April 8, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307277364
- ISBN-13: 978-0307277367
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,935,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Disappearing Destinations: 37 Places in Peril and What Can Be Done to Help Save Them (Vintage Departures) Paperback – April 8, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
The expression tourist hot spot takes on new meaning in this fact-packed survey of travel destinations endangered by global warming, environmental degradation, predatory logging, mining and fishing and the impact of too many tourists. In 37 essays, travel journalists Lisagor and Hansen vividly document places in peril, ranging from the ocean nations of Tuvalu and the Maldives, slowly submerging beneath rising waters, to the historic ski chalets of the Alps, where snow is falling less and melting faster. The catalogue of disasters is chilling: the glaciers are vanishing from America's Glacier National Park; the ancient city of Timbuktu in central Mali is succumbing to desertification; warming seas are bleaching Australia's Great Barrier Reef; dry winters and inept water management have drained life from the Rio Grande; and the relentless march of hundreds of thousands of enthralled tourists is causing irrevocable damage to the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu. The authors' accounts of how the world's beauty is being despoiled, based on sharp on-site reporting, are a cautionary call to arms for tourists to fight environmental excesses and, when traveling, to tread lightly. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Dive into any chapter in this unusual and ensnaring collection, the one on Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays, let’s say, or Mount Rainer, or the Dead Sea, and you enter the pleasure zone of vivid, smart travel writing. But journalists Lisagor and Hansen quickly break the spell by chronicling the environmental devastation under way in the planet’s most glorious places. Lisagor and Hansen not only vividly document the problems but also seek solutions in conversations with activists determined to halt mountaintop-removal coal extraction in Appalachia, the littering hordes wrecking Machu Picchu and Mount Kilimanjaro (nearly bereft now of its fabled snows), and the overdevelopment threatening the Galápagos Islands. But the most harrowing damage is caused by global warming. The planet’s glaciers are melting, causing floods and promising severe water shortages. Ocean levels are rising, placing Venice and many coastal areas in jeopardy, while desertification is endangering legendary Timbuktu. By reporting on observable environmental decimation in places of profound natural beauty and cultural and spiritual significance, Lisagor and Hansen seek to arouse alarm and stoke resistance to further ruination. --Donna Seaman
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Top Customer Reviews
Each profile starts with a seductive description of the place, reminding us how much pleasure we associate with it. But just as you're about to book your ticket--to Napa, Lapland, Venice, Patagonia, or Alaska--the writers hint that these wonderful places are under threat. They quote experts who explain the impact that humans are causing (often incidentally) to the place through industry, development, pollution, tourism, etc. In some cases, like the mountain-top mining in the Appalachians, the scene is almost apocalyptic. But in every case, it is deeply troubling. (And you won't find it mentioned in the tourist brochures!)
Then locals testify to their own loss of heritage through the degradation of the place. Their input shows that these issues not only impact "we" travelers, but also the local population that has a historical, cultural, and spiritual relationship to the area. It's poignant stuff. And after a few pages of each profile, you start to feel a real connection to the place. You feel pained for it and the community.
But just before you're about to give up traveling altogether, Lisagor & Hansen provide local counter-examples showing that these problems are not irreversible. They detail efforts being made by environmental agents, community activists, and responsible tourism outfits to preserve and enrich these locales. Much of their actions are having a positive impact, sometimes even reversing the threat of decline. Furthermore, the writers show how travelers can continue to enjoy these places too, but in a responsible manner.
The message of the book is that we are unintentionally destroying many of the places that we love through short-sighted tourism practices, aggressive industrial expansion, and rampant over-development. The authors elegantly combine travel-writing, activism, and analysis that engages one's mind and emotions on a totally different level. A much higher level.
Most importantly, Disappearing Destinations actually makes you want to travel: to kayak the Coal River, to hike Kilimanjaro, to explore Timbuktu, to float on the Dead Sea, and to trek through Nepal. But it makes you want to do so responsibly, in a way that contributes to those places (environmentally) as much as is taken away (emotionally and spiritually).
The adventurous or caring reader will surely feel the urge to visit these incredible destinations before they're gone. But the structure of this book leaves a little something to be desired. The 37 locations of interest are covered in fairly brief chapters that resemble feature articles, and the structure is nearly always the same - describe the beauty of the location, discuss the threats faced by the ecosystem, provide coverage for local activists and organizers, and wrap things up with a closing paragraph on what the reader is missing. (The latter is often accomplished with forced and awkward prose like "a rainbow from a passing shower lingers" or "the range curves along the landscape and into the future.")
While the locations covered here definitely deserve the attention, the book feels a little arbitrary and perfunctory, like a collection of magazine articles with an identical structure applied to selected settings. And after learning about how each location is facing the same threats, there is potential for a higher theme that doesn't quite arrive for the reader. (For instance, we know climate change is a threat, but a bigger-picture treatment of this disaster might be more insightful for globally-focused environmentalists than repetitive prose about three dozen local problems.) Granted, as a travelogue the book is still intriguing and rewarding, and the appendix brings deserved attention to many brave and noteworthy conservation organizations. [~doomsdayer520~]
Great travel writing makes you feel like you've visited a place without having left your seat. The best travel writing makes you want to jump out of your seat and go there. Disappearing Destinations adds another layer: you read each chapter and encounter each new place with a sense of wonder at its incredible natural gifts, you hope that what you are reading never transitions into historical artifact, and you are given the action plans to ensure that it doesn't. Disappearing Destinations is a must-read for anyone who's interested our natural paradises and wants to know what they can do before they're lost forever.