ABOUT THIS BOOK
When viewed from space, the Korean Peninsula is crossed by a thin green ribbon. On the ground, its mix of dense vegetation and cleared borderlands serves as home to dozens of species that are extinct or endangered elsewhere on the peninsula. This is Korea’s demilitarized zone—one of the most dangerous places on earth for humans, and paradoxically one of the safest for wildlife. Although this zone was not intentionally created for conservation, across the globe hundreds of millions of acres of former military zones and bases are being converted to restoration areas, refuges, and conservation lands. David G. Havlick has traveled the world visiting these spaces of military-to-wildlife transition, and in Bombs Away he explores both the challenges—physical, historical, and cultural—and fascinating ecological possibilities of military site conversions.
Looking at particular international sites of transition—from Indiana’s Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge to Cold War remnants along the former Iron Curtain—Havlick argues that these new frontiers of conservation must accomplish seemingly antithetical aims: rebuilding and protecting ecosystems, or restoring life, while also commemorating the historical and cultural legacies of warfare and militarization. Developing these ideas further, he shows that despite the ecological devastation often wrought by military testing and training, these activities need not be inconsistent with environmental goals, and in some cases can even complement them—a concept he calls ecological militarization. A profound, clear explication of landscapes both fraught and fecund, marked by death but also reservoirs of life, Bombs Away shows us how “military activities, conservation goals, and ecological restoration efforts are made to work together to create new kinds of places and new conceptions of place.”