Sunday, April 23, 2006

Twenty Years Ago This Week

cover of bookThe nuclear accident at Chernobyl occurred on April 26, 1986. We have a fascinating new book by Mary Mycio, Wormwood forest : a natural history of Chernobyl. A surprising fact is that, with humans excluded from the contaminated areas, over the past 20 years the forest has been reclaiming both towns and fields, and a radioactive but otherwise flourishing array of wildlife has reinhabited the de facto sanctuary of the exclusion zone. Since the publisher of Mycio's book is National Academies Press, it is also available free online. They have a number of other nuclear titles also available. Another recent book about Chernobyl is Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich. A very effective earlier account, published a few years after the accident, is Grigori Medvedev's The truth about Chernobyl. (Also, Martin Cruz Smith's terrific 2004 novel, Wolves Eat Dogs, is set in contemporary Chornobyl.) cover of book

The demilitarized zone in Korea is also reported to be rich in wildlife, as is our own White Sands Missle Range, both because of the enforced exclusion of people. It's interesting to think about. There are more people all the time everywhere in the world except in a few places accidentally protected by terrible reasons.

P.S. Wormwood Forest is one of those books which we missed hearing about, and we hadn't ordered it until one of our library users asked for it. As much as possible we order what you ask for, and we count on you all to point out the titles we should have when you notice they are not yet in the system.

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