• Islands of Abandonment

  • Nature Rebounding in the Post-Human Landscape
  • By: Cal Flyn
  • Narrated by: Cal Flyn
  • Length: 9 hrs and 6 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (60 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A beautiful, lyrical exploration of the places where nature is flourishing in our absence

"[Flyn] captures the dread, sadness, and wonder of beholding the results of humanity's destructive impulse, and she arrives at a new appreciation of life, 'all the stranger and more valuable for its resilence." (The New Yorker)

Some of the only truly feral cattle in the world wander a long-abandoned island off the northernmost tip of Scotland. A variety of wildlife not seen in many lifetimes has rebounded on the irradiated grounds of Chernobyl. A lush forest supports thousands of species that are extinct or endangered everywhere else on earth in the Korean peninsula's narrow DMZ.

Cal Flyn, an investigative journalist, exceptional nature writer, and promising new literary voice visits the eeriest and most desolate places on Earth that due to war, disaster, disease, or economic decay, have been abandoned by humans. What she finds every time is an "island" of teeming new life: nature has rushed in to fill the void faster and more thoroughly than even the most hopeful projections of scientists.

Islands of Abandonment is a tour through these new ecosystems, in all their glory, as sites of unexpected environmental significance, where the natural world has reasserted its wild power and promise. And while it doesn't let us off the hook for addressing environmental degradation and climate change, it is a case that hope is far from lost, and it is ultimately a story of redemption: the most polluted spots on Earth can be rehabilitated through ecological processes and, in fact, they already are.

©2021 Cal Flyn (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

Finalist for the Wainwright Prize

A Vulture "Book of the Summer"

One of Washington Post's Best Travel Books of 2021

“[A] riveting collection of essays.... Through lush and poetic language, [Flyn] captures the vital forces at work in the natural world. This is nature writing at its most potent.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

“Bracing, eye-opening, comprehensive, and essential, Islands of Abandonment is an energizing and important work. It affirms that nature is resilient, given half a chance, and should motivate all of us to try harder, even for the habitats that seem broken or hopeless.” (Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and the Southern Reach trilogy) 

"Filled with understanding and adventure, Islands of Abandonment is written with a beautiful attention to detail and a generous and imaginative frame of mind. The wonderful and surprising thing is how much reassurance and sense of possibility comes out of it at every turn. In that way, it is the most precious hymn to resilience." (Adam Nicolson, author of Sea Room

What listeners say about Islands of Abandonment

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Stunningly necessary

Flyn writes with such descriptive and poetic prose. Each place visited and explored comes alive, as though raised from the dead of obscurity.

4 people found this helpful

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Amazing Review of destruction finding some hope

I hope Miss Flyn's other writings are as descriptive. I cannot go to these places, yet feel as though I have. At times, I wanted to weep for the scars we cause, but yet revel in the amazing resilience of this beautiful planet that hosts us. Thank you, Miss Flyn, I will definitely be looking into your other works.

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Beautifully Written Story

Flynn is knowledgeable about her subjects. She is well educated and travels deeply further researching what she writes about. The writing is lyrical as well as factual. I learned a lot from listening to this book. I may listen to it again someday. I found mispronunciations of Greek names distracting. It’s not that difficult to get the accent correct in Greek names! Overall though, it was a really good journey of science, poetry and art.

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pretentious

I honestly had to quit halfway through. I couldn't stand the narrator's voice any longer. the overly flowery language and her condescending tone makes it hard not to dismisse such an important subject. I will continue the book, but with the kindle version. it will be easier to look past the needlessly dramatic prose and take in the information.

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Stunningly Breathtaking!

If there is a thing as ruin porn, this is ruin love letters! Thanks so much! Just finished and going straight back for another round and bought a hard copy! Really well written can't wait for more from this author!