The title of this fascinated me – I have always been interested in remote places and so insights into their possible survival in the modern world struck me as being of value. The scope of Jules Pretty’s book is simply vast covering a dozen or more very diverse locations around the world. Not only are those locations diverse but the current state of those locations vary widely as do the threats to their extinction. In some cases the threats are passive indifference while in others they are generated directly or indirectly by you and I through current governments.
The book is knowledgeable in so many areas; history (from the very ancient to relatively modern) geography, geology, biology, sociology to name but a few. I did find it more descriptive than analytical which was not I had been expecting. However once I’d realised that I found the book had a charm to it with some wonderfully descriptive chapters. To say that the places visited are steeped in history would be an understatement of enormous proportions. These are tales from truly remote places in part although some are deeply embedded in the modern world such as the Amish settlements of the USA. Some of these places really only have echoes of a time when they were inhabited; the Burrup or Murujuga in north western Australia would be an example of this. In some cases there is a very strong feel of the isolation of those remaining. That does not imply that there is a lack of community simply that some of these communities are or feel very isolated; places such as Karelia or Labrador illustrate this well for me. Some chapters held me almost spellbound and I loved them, other chapters failed to touch me in quite the same way though. In part I’m sure that this is due to my interest in some areas rather than others however there were also times when I found the writing style a little idiosyncratic and maybe disjointed but that was quite rare.
In the end these and other places are under threat due to the interest or disinterest of an unthinking modern world intent on making the most of places it has no real understanding of. Sadly this book may not change that however it should appeal to those with an interest in such things. Equally people who do have an interest in deep human history and the lives of those who were distantly our forefathers should enjoy this book. Those whose interest is simply travel will also find this a very accessible read. I must say I have never read a book that has caused me to look up so many words or google so many places and I am grateful for that.
Note – I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review