cover image Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World’s Most 
Polluted Places

Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World’s Most Polluted Places

Andrew Blackwell. Rodale, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-60529-445-2

Driving though the irradiated wastes around Chernobyl or traversing the deforested frontiers of the Amazon jungle rarely tops even the most seasoned travelers’ must-see list, but this entertaining, appealing, and thoughtful travelogue covers some of the world’s most befouled spots with lively, agile wit. Journalist and filmmaker Blackwell doesn’t just present a list of environmental woes but undertakes provocative meditations on how to care about the planet while recognizing that plenty of people need to make a living, sometimes to the environment’s detriment. Contemporary environmentalism is rife with contradictions, and as he ponders the impact of western Canada’s oil sands, he notes: “Whether we’re talking about recycling, or voting, or consumer choices... these are all attempts to square the circle, to mitigate—or more often, to atone for—our individual role in the disquietingly unsustainable system that keeps us alive.” As his project to visit the wretched places of the Earth takes its toll on his personal relationship and well-being, he gives considerable thought to why he’s doing it, realizing that he “love[s] the ruined places for all the ways they aren’t ruined.” While he doesn’t offer solutions or answers, the book does offer an astute critique of how visions of blighted spots create an either/or vision of how to care for the environment and live in the world. Agent: Michelle Tessler, Tessler Literary Agency. (June)