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Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl [Kindle Edition]

Mary Mycio

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"The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the water became wormwood, and many men died from the water for it was made bitter". Revelation 8-10"


When a titanic explosion ripped through the Number Four reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant in 1986, spewing flames and chunks of burning, radioactive material into the atmosphere, one of our worst nightmares came true. As the news gradually seeped out of the USSR and the extent of the disaster was realized, it became clear how horribly wrong things had gone. Dozens died--two from the explosion and many more from radiation illness during the following months--while scores of additional victims came down with acute radiation sickness. Hundreds of thousands were evacuated from the most contaminated areas. The prognosis for Chernobyl and its environs--succinctly dubbed the Zone of Alienation--was grim.

Today, 20 years after the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, intrepid journalist Mary Mycio dons dosimeter and camouflage protective gear to explore the world’s most infamous radioactive wilderness. As she tours the Zone to report on the disaster’s long-term effects on its human, faunal, and floral inhabitants, she meets pockets of defiant local residents who have remained behind to survive and make a life in the Zone. And she is shocked to discover that the area surrounding Chernobyl has become Europe’s largest wildlife sanctuary, a flourishing--at times unearthly--wilderness teeming with large animals and a variety of birds, many of them members of rare and endangered species. Like the forests, fields, and swamps of their unexpectedly inviting habitat, both the people and the animals are all radioactive. Cesium-137 is packed in their muscles and strontium-90 in their bones. But quite astonishingly, they are also thriving.

If fears of the Apocalypse and a lifeless, barren radioactive future have been constant companions of the nuclear age, Chernobyl now shows us a different view of the future. A vivid blend of reportage, popular science, and illuminating encounters that explode the myths of Chernobyl with facts that are at once beautiful and horrible, Wormwood Forest brings a remarkable land--and its people and animals--to life to tell a unique story of science, surprise and suspense.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 1086 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 276 Seiten
  • Verlag: Joseph Henry Press (29. August 2005)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B004R9Q1LC
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #553.253 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.6 von 5 Sternen  19 Rezensionen
34 von 35 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Informative, Entertaining, Well-Written 28. Mai 2006
Von Michael Lee Parsons - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This book works on several levels. The initial premise is that the Chenobyl disaster did not create a barren wasteland, as we might have anticipated. Rather, the "Zone of Alienation", from which nearly all humans have been removed, has become a flourishing nature preserve. Working from that point, the author explores the disaster and its consequences from a number of perspectives. There is a discussion of the accident itself, of the initial efforts to deal with it, and then with the long term effects, not only upon the plants and animals of the Zone, but also upon people - who continue to work and even live inside the Zone.

The writing is clear, perhaps due to Ms. Mycio's journalistic background. It is also very engaging, because she is intensely interested in the subject, and shares the reasons for her interest with the reader. For those of us who will never have the opportunity to visit the Zone, this book is really the next best thing.

The author has a website which makes a terrific supplement to the book, with generous photo galleries organized according in parallel to the book: [...]
26 von 28 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Out of Nuclear Ashes, springs hope 26. Oktober 2005
Von Kenneth Nowakowski - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
There is a popular song in Ukrainian Folk culture, "Two Colors". Black, that is sadness and Red that is joy. These two colors often are used in the famous Ukrainian Embroidered shirts and blouses. My reading of Mary Mycio's fabulous book, "Wormwood Forest" reminded me of this song. There is so much pain in this book, yet there is joy at coming to know some truths about a modern day cover-up. Mycio writes about complicated technical things regarding nuclear energy and the horrible accident in Chernobyl, Ukraine in such away that you don't need to have a scientific background to understand the picture. Yet, those with a scientific background will find this book informative. Want to find out what happened at Chernobyl, and what's happening now - then read this book!
14 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Hopeful Cautionary Tale 16. August 2009
Von David B Richman - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I have put off reading "Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl" in part because with all the other bad news we are subjected to, I wanted to avoid a real downer. However once I started reading the book I could not put it down. Mary Mycio has captured both the despair (of which I was afraid) and the hope (in which I had difficulty believing) of the Chernobyl disaster. The name "Wormwood Forest" comes from the close relative of true wormwood that is one of the characteristic plants of the Chernobyl forest.

Certainly the horror of the melted power plant core and the pockets of high radiation levels present still hangs over the human inhabitants of "the Zone," as the area within a 30 km circle of the reactor is known, is palpable enough. This is especially so given the huge amount of human suffering engendered by the explosion, both in direct death by radiation for the firefighters to the increase of thyroid cancer in children. Still, as Mycio points out so eloquently, the worst predictions did not materialize and the Zone has become a wildlife (admittedly radioactive wildlife!) bonanza. Certainly selection for resistance to radiation took a terrible toll among the local mammals, birds, plants, and others. Sill the existence and even flourishing of the local biota is a surprising and hopeful development. Mycio has, in my opinion, done a very good job of describing this ambiguous result. Her style of writing is in fact very powerful in telling the story of Chernobyl.

It is obvious that no one (other than perhaps James Lovelock) would want to recreate "the Zone" in other localities on the planet and that the failure of the reactor is in every sense a cautionary tale. Until we can find some way to deal with the health effects to Uranium miners, the possibilities and consequences of failure in reactors, and the difficulties of dealing with radioactive waste, we have to look at nuclear power as a two-edged sword. On the other hand such countries as France have managed to handle the reactor construction and operation with few problems. However, they still have not addressed the first and last problems. Another problem in an age of terrorism is the security of the nuclear materials present. In my view nuclear power is only a short term solution at best.

The flourishing of wildlife around the reactor, especially mammals and birds- which are thought to be more susceptible to radiation damage- was surprising. However, it was already known that some lower organisms not killed immediately by the fireball, extreme radiation and shock wave of a nuclear explosion could rebound to higher numbers than before. Darkling beetles did so after explosions of bombs at the Nuclear Test Site in Nevada. In the process of describing the results of the Chernobyl explosion Mycio has shown us that in reality humans are more dangerous to other life forms, especially vertebrates, than is radiation!

Read this book! It clears away the fog and lets us confront both the real and imagined hazards of nuclear power.
21 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Fascinating book that should be required for biology classes! 5. November 2006
Von Mary Baechler - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I came across this book when I made friends with someone from the Ukraine... the book grew and grew on me as I read it; I did not realize until towards the end that the author had deftly taken us through the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, and then through a gestalt of the land and people. (I like the casual way she would check her radiation meter to see how much radiation she was getting at a given pond, bog or town). So we kind of weave our way through the history, then the air, plants, ground, water,animals, people, and towns affected by Chernobyl. There's a lot of science but Mary Mycio makes you feel like, hey, you too understand all the bits and pieces about leftover radiation. So two things happen as you read the book; you feel like are in the car with her and her guides. And then to you see how nature has come back in an awesome way and taken over what is still a nuclear wasteland.(The wildlife has thrived and rebounded since people are gone from their radioactive world). Amazing book; all science majors should read this!
15 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A fascinating tale of life in the forbidden zone 20. März 2006
Von I. Trofimov - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Displaying remarkable courage, Mary Mycio set out to examine what has become of that forbidden, virtually unpeopled realm around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, one of the greatest ecological catastrophes of modern times. Her findings are surprising and intriguing, and will keep readers turning pages at night. A fascinating tale!
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