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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 February 2017
This short book provides an excellent overview of recent studies conducted in the area surrounding the destroyed Chernobyl nuclear reactor. The accident that occurred on the 26th April 1986 was devastating, representing the worst nuclear disaster ever. Following this event, the nearby city of Pripyat was permanently evacuated, with some 30,000 residents forced to relocate. And an 'exclusion zone' extending 30km in every direction was established - as radiation levels were extremely high. It has been estimated that the area will not be safe for human occupation for another 20,000 years ... And so, for the most part, this vast area has remained abandoned for the last 30 years. Yet life has continued - and, indeed, thrived in this nuclear terrain. Rather than becoming a barren wasteland, this exclusion zone has become a haven for wildlife. It's a highly forested area, and both plant and animal life are thriving. Other than the derelict buildings of abandoned Pripyat, the Chernobyl area resembles a natural paradise. And this book explores the environment and ecology of the irradiated region.

It's a well-written book - aimed at those with a background in the environmental sciences. While a lay reader may understand aspects of this book, for the most part it's a summary of academic contributions which won't make complete sense to a novice. But if this is your area of interest, I highly recommend this book. It's a fascinating study on how life finds a way to thrive in extreme conditions.
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on 1 September 2007
"Wormwood Forest" may well change the way you think about man's destructive impact on the world.
As a book, it reads like the sequel to a book that gives detailed account of the accident itself Such as "Ablaze- the Story of Chernobyl" by Piers Paul Reid.
My only minor frustration was the small number of B/W illustrations. Some higher quality maps and colour photos would have really helped illuminate the vivid descriptive passages in the text. The author does have a good website with suitable pictures which you can easily print out and use as a book-mark though.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this volume; it's thoughtful, insightful and inspiring. Many readers will value the myth-dispelling chapters (there is a lot of nonsense out there about Chernobyl); conclusions from her discoveries leave us feeling optimistic about the natural world's future. For all these reasons, it deserves a very high recommendation indeed.
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on 13 August 2012
A eminently readable layman's introduction to the "Zone of Exclusion". Explains the phenomena of the transport of radioactive materials through the various strata of the biosphere in some detail (a process which is highly complex and unclear; students in biology take note - there is enough to do for a series of PhDs) and does not fall into the trap of equating human tragedy with environmental destruction. Life goes on, evolution and adaption don't stop, even if lifespans are shortened and DNA gets cracked by burst of energy. A fold-out map would have been useful. But then again, one can use Google Maps, which has everything in glorious detail (with tourist's photograph of wild horses, too!)

Infinitely better than "Chernobyl: The Hidden Legacy" which is basically a dreary wallowing in pity and modern-age conspirational fingerpointing.
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on 13 August 2013
I am on my second read of this excellent book. The author brings together the facts and outcome of this disaster in a very readable way. I am sure I will be able to read this again and again and still be entertained by it. The area has been on my bucket list for a number of years, and one day I am sure I will visit.
The book should appeal to anyone interested in the disaster itself, and those that are interested in how mother nature will always prosper despite the challenges.
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on 18 November 2013
Amazing first hand investigation into the wildlife around chernobyl. There's nothing like hearing someone who's actually been there and seen it all for herself!
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on 2 November 2015
Very interesting and informative. Good read.
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on 11 August 2012
This IS an outstanding book...my personal issue [and i emphasise it is personal, with no demerit on the author's fine effort]is that the author cannot decide what kind of book it wants to be: travelogue, memoir, natural history [belies the title], scientific paper, parable. It tries to be all and unsatisfactorily for the reader it is none of the above. I will be deliberately vague here: I have family who were directly involved in this tragedy; Chernobyl needs to be taught as an object lesson in modernity throughout the world (by goodness, if we cannot learn from this then we deserved to be damned). This book is a sampler, a disorganised overture. We need the sypathetic symphony. Facinating but flawed.
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