Monday, October 10, 2022

Review: Atlas of Abandoned Places

Title: Atlas of Abandoned Places
Author: Oliver Smith

Publisher: 11th October 2022 by Hachette Australia

Pages: 220 pages

Genre: nonfiction, travel, world, history

My Rating: 5 cups


Explore the wonders that the world forgot with award-winning travel writer Oliver Smith - from breathtaking buildings with a dark past to decaying reminders of more troubled times.

The globe is littered with forgotten monuments, their beauty matched only by the secrets of their past.

A glorious palace lies abandoned by a fallen dictator. A grand monument to communism sits forgotten atop a mountain. Two never-launched space shuttles slowly crumble, left to rot in the middle of the desert. Explore these and many more of the world's lost wonders in this atlas like no other.

With remarkable stories, bespoke maps and stunning photography of fifty forsaken sites, The Atlas of Abandoned Places travels the world beneath the surface; the sites with stories to tell, the ones you won't find in any guidebook.

Award-winning travel writer Oliver Smith is your guide on a long-lost path, shining a light on the places that the world forgot.

Locations featured in the book include:

Europe: Maunsell Forts, Aldwych Station, Paris Catacombs, La Petite Ceinture, Craco, Teufelsberg, Beelitz-Heilstatten, Red Star Train Graveyard, Pyramiden, Salpa Line, Buzludzha Monument, Pripyat, Wolf's Lair, Project Riese, Sarajevo Bobsleigh Track, Albanian Bunkers, Rummu Quarry

The Americas & the Caribbean: New Bedford Orpheum Theatre, City Hall Station, Bodie, The Boneyards of Western USA, Bannerman Castle, Palace of Sans Souci, Montserrat Exclusion Zone, Ciudad Perdida, Humberstone and Santa Laura, Uyuni Train Cemetery, Fordlandia

The Middle East & the Caucasus: Kayakoy, Burj Al Babas, Varosha, Tskaltubo, Palaces of Saddam

Asia: Ryugyong Hotel, Buran at Baikonur, Mo'ynoq Ship Graveyard, Aniva Lighthouse, Ho' Thuy Tien Waterpark, Fukushima Red Zone, Hashima

Oceania: Wittenoom, Wrecks of Homebush Bay, Port Arthur, MS World Discoverer, Second World Remains of Papua New Guinea

Africa: Shipwrecks of the Skeleton Coast, Kolmanskop, Mobutu's Gbadolite, Mos Espa, Sao Martinho dos Tigres

My Thoughts

‘To step into an abandoned place is to cross a kind of threshold into the past - to time travel from the present day to the instant that people departed.’

This is an absolutely fascinating book! A trip not only through time but around the world with proverbial windows into abandoned places. This book features maps and interesting photography of ghostly places - some lost to nature, others to supposed progress. Each location has a compelling tale about the people and society it reflects.

Atlas of Abandoned Places details a range of abandoned locales throughout the world -  ‘some are fallen monuments to impossible dreams. Others are ordinary houses and apartments.’ Featured locations include palaces, mines, trains, planes, hotels, theme parks, theatres, stations and military installations. 

‘We emerge … with questions: who lived here, worked here? What were their dreams? And, selfishly, what would our own world look like decades from now, if it too suddenly became frozen in this instant? What would survive of us? What would wither and decay?’

Oliver Smith has spent years travelling the faraway corners of the world. A four-time Travel Writer of the Year award winner, he has appeared in Lonely Planet, National Geographic, the BBC, The Sunday Times and many more. Here, Smith writes beautifully and thoughtfully and I loved it. Each location includes informative descriptions that are both insightful and thought provoking. Also included is map coordinates, summary sentence, two page story, maps (world location and country specific) and multiple impressive photos. A fascinating and thought-provoking read that I highly recommend for not just coffee tables but also the brilliant discussions that are sure to ensue. 

‘They serve as a postscript to cemeteries: a vision of our deaths not as individuals, but as communities, as a species.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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