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Islands of Abandonment by Cal Flyn

September 14, 2020

In a journey to some of the eeriest and most desolate places on earth, Cal Flyn launches a luminous exploration into what happens to the places humans once inhabited, and have now left behind.

Ranging from continent to continent, Flyn travels to islands in Scotland where the resident cows look at humans without recognition. She meets the scarce few people who returned to their homes in the radiation zones of Chernobyl. She sneaks into a political no-man’s-land in Cyprus, a ghost town where the population were expelled so suddenly their dinner plates are still laid out on tables and armed guards police the perimeter. She visits Detroit, once America’s fourth largest city, but which has lost two-thirds of its population in the last seventy years, leaving entirely vacant streets, competitive junkers and blight – an irrepressible urban decay.

By turns haunted and hopeful, Flyn’s journey offers a startling history of human impact, an underpinning of the ecology behind nature’s rhythms, and – via this beautiful synthesis of the global tug of war between wildness and civilisation – a possible story of redemption.

Though many of these abandoned areas are the most polluted spots on Earth, nature is creeping back to compete and collaborate with the remnants of civilisation. In their capacity for change, these landscapes might provide the greatest opportunity for biological regrowth ever afforded.

Published 21st January 2021 | Hardback | 9780008329761 | RRP £16.99

If you’re a bookseller in the UK or Ireland and you’d like an advance reading copy of Islands of Abandonment please send your request, along with your name and bookshop address, to Ammara at

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