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New Chernobyl Book Reveals The Area Like You’ve Never Seen it Before

Photo: Darmon Richter / FUEL

After the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, on 26 April 1986, an area the size of a small country was evacuated. Villages on both sides of the border – in Ukraine and Belarus – were left empty, to create the “Chernobyl Exclusion Zone”. Now, three decades after the disaster, this contaminated land remains entirely abandoned… or at least, that’s what a lot of people think.

A new book by British writer and photographer Darmon Richter sets out to show a different side of Chernobyl. Chernobyl: A Stalkers’ Guide features 248 pages of words and photos, showing Chernobyl like you’ve never seen it before. From wildlife and village settlers, to midnight lightning over Pripyat, and even inside the most secure areas of the nuclear power plant.

Photo: Darmon Richter / FUEL

Since 2013 the author spent a total of two whole months inside the Exclusion Zone, on 20 different trips. In the book he visits Chernobyl first as a tourist, then as a tour guide – and shares some interesting facts about how the Chernobyl tourism industry works behind the scenes. Later, the author takes a trip with the “stalkers”… and sneaks into Chernobyl at night, to make an illegal hike through the radioactive forests while hiding from dogs and police.

Photo: Darmon Richter / FUEL

So if you ever played the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games (or watched the famous movie by Russian director Tarkovsky), and you wondered what it would be like to be a real-life stalker in the Chernobyl Zone… you can read all about it here, without even getting your shoes dirty.

Photo: Darmon Richter / FUEL

In other chapters the book introduces the re-settlers who live in the Zone today, as well as scientists, looters, stalkers, ravers, and even some of the liquidators who participated in the disaster clean-up.

Photo: Darmon Richter / FUEL

All the way through the book, Darmon makes the same point – Chernobyl is bigger and busier than it seems, and tourists only see one tiny part of the Zone. According to the author: “Even now, with many thousands of tourists travelling to Chernobyl each year, tourism still accounts for less than 5% of the total human activity in the Zone. So I set out to write a book about the other 95%.”

The book is out now, published by FUEL – the same people who made the Soviet Bus Stops books.

What do you think?

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