Nuclear Waste Sites, War Zones, Slag Heaps, Ghost Towns

What does the natural world look like after human beings abandon it? Journalist Cal Flyn delves into the history and rebirth of these neglected places in her book, Islands of Abandonment: Nature Rebounding in the Post-Human Landscape. In this episode of Book Dreams, Cal shares with Eve and Julie some of these strange cautionary tales, and how she finds hope and beauty in the devastation. From the wilding of domesticated cows turned feral in the Scottish islands to the resilience of killifish in Newark Bay, examples abound of how nature survives and flourishes without us. They discuss, too, how our attempts to reverse the damage done by invasive species and urban dereliction sometimes create more problems than they solve. “That's the warning from the past,” Cal says. “We thought we knew what we were doing, and we didn't. So just be careful.”


Cal Flyn is an author, investigative journalist, and a MacDowell fellow from the Highlands of Scotland. She's worked as a reporter for The Sunday Times and The Telegraph and has contributed to publications, including Granta, The Guardian, The Times, The Observer, and others. Her first book, Thicker Than Water, was one of The Times’ Best Books of 2016. Islands of Abandonment is a finalist for the Wainwright Prize and was one of The Washington Post's Best Travel Books of 2021.




Islands of Abandonment: Nature Rebounding in the Post-Human Landscape


FINALIST FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE, THE WAINWRIGHT CONSERVATION AWARD, THE BRITISH ACADEMY BOOK PRIZE, and THE SCOTTISH NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR


A VULTURE "BOOK OF THE SUMMER"


A BEST TRAVEL BOOK OF THE YEAR in THE WASHINGTON POST, SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE, and NEWSWEEK


THE SUNDAY TIMES’ SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT BOOK OF THE YEAR


LONGLISTED FOR THE HIGHLAND BOOK PRIZE 2021


“Captures the dread, sadness, and wonder of beholding the results of humanity’s destructive impulse, and…arrives at a new appreciation of life.” –The New Yorker


"Vital...Flyn offers cautious optimism for the fate of the planet's species. She resists being paralyzed by fear and encourages people to 'find faith enough to fight' climate change.'"–Washington Post


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Cal Flyn

Islands of Abandonment: Nature Rebounding in the Post-Human Landscape, by Cal Flyn

Eve Yohalem

Julie Sternberg

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