Opening with an essay by Mikhail Gorbachev, the last head of state of the Soviet Union, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, this is a deeply personal journey into a landscape forever changed.
National Geographic photographer Gerd Ludwig, made nine visits to Chernobyl over a period of 20 years; this is his powerful record of an environmental and human tragedy. Through the perspective of the victims living with the emotional and physical aftermath, to the Exclusion Zone created by a massive evacuation (more than 350,000 people by the year 2000), to the abandoned neighboring city of Pripyat, once a scientist's dream in terms of quality of life yet now uninhabitable, it is a record of almost unbelievable suffering and desolation.
Working under enormous time and radiation pressure, Ludwig ventures deeper into the belly of the beast than any other photographer, repeatedly documenting the destroyed reactor No.4, which will disappear under a New Safe Confinement for at least 100 years.
This book does not always make for easy viewing. It is however, an emotive, thought-provoking and necessary testament to one of the twentieth century's worst nuclear disasters. Using documents that until recently have been classified, from the CIA, U.S Government Foreign Press Monitoring, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, GAO and United States Congress of the disaster, it becomes an even more important voice in the continuing political, environmental and economic arguments around the safety of using nuclear energy, particularly in light of the Fukushima disaster in Japan twenty-five years later.
Gerd Ludwig is an internationally renowned photographer, best known for his work for National Geographic magazine.