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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
In 1986, the world watched in horror as an accident in the USSR’s Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant caused the worst radiological crisis in history. For decades after this event, children from the abandoned Exclusion Zone of Chernobyl were welcomed into homes around the world while they underwent chemotherapy and other cancer treatments to curb the damage done by the nuclear plant’s meltdown. The world hasn’t forgotten, but the community that was once a thriving metropolis and a proud symbol of the USSR’s might and power is now little more than a ghost town, where deserted buildings tell a story of what once was and what was hastily left behind.
Darmon Richter’s book, Chernobyl: A Stalkers’ Guide, is like a travelogue. The author/photographer takes the reader into the forbidden Exclusion Zone and walks us through the deserted homes, schools, recreation centers, amusement parks, and even the shell of the Nuclear Power Plant that was the source of the disaster. Life goes on as nature moves in to reclaim what man once replaced with brick, mortar, and concrete. The site of this horrific event has become a tourist draw over the years and, as the radiation levels decrease, stalkers are allowed further access than ever before. The author/photographer provides insight into the shell of a once-thriving metropolis and allows the reader to digest the stories he shares and the stories the photographs suggest. It is an eerie and captivating documentation of the community beyond the disaster. A powerful narrative with vibrant photographs that portray a deeper, more compelling story.