REVIEWS of my book Atlas of Dark Destinations
Meanwhile there have been several reviews of my book
, some in online media outlets, others on general book platforms (e.g. Goodreads
) … and of course on Amazon
(external links – open in new tabs). Below is a list of links and a few comments.
The majority of reviews so far have been quite positive, but of course it’s the less positive, critical ones that require particular attention.
Other reviews on Amazon
raise points of criticism too, such as one wondering why no sites associated with the American Civil War are included. The answer is to be found in the introduction to the book: it follows from a timescale limitation, first suggested by Lennon/Foley
, which situates dark tourism
within the modern age, so from ca. the late 19th century onwards. So the American Civil War was simply too long ago to get coverage.
Another review complains that “a fair number of places left out that should have been included”. It would have helped if the reviewer had specified an example or two. But obviously, this book is based on a selection of sites, and that necessarily means lots of other places had to be left out. I believe everybody will find some place missing that they would have liked to be covered too, but when making a selection you simply cannot please everybody. The same review also claims that “some of the commentary is a bit biased”. Again we are left wondering which commentary and in what way it is supposed to be biased (and in what direction). Left so simply, there’s no clue.
There’s one three-star review that says “OK as an introduction” but not “an in-depth exploration”. True, that’s because the book is intended as an introduction, providing an overview
. So this is basically criticizing the book for being what it actually wants to be. The line “Many of the locations are widely known are [sic!] not exactly ‘dark tourism’ or off the standard tourist trails.” Maybe this reviewer misinterprets ‘dark tourism’ as ‘obscure tourism’? But in reality dark tourism does include quite a few overlaps with mainstream tourism (e.g. 9/11 Memorial & Museum
, even Auschwitz
One reviewer remarks that some of the dark places he has visited are not covered and gives three examples, two of which are, however, actually covered in the book, namely Éperlecques
(p.108) and the car in which Franz Ferdinand was assassinated (p.161 – there’s even a photo of said car), it’s just that this is not in a “German museum” but in an Austrian one (this
) … why should it even be in a German museum, given that Franz Ferdinand was heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg empire? But OK. It’s still a five-star review so I shouldn’t moan ;-)
Journalistic reviews of the book in specific online media outlets include the following (the links to the reviews/features are all external links, opening in new tabs):
This is a double review
, one half of which is about my book, and it’s generally positive, though also noting “some countries are perhaps under-represented” (which is indeed the case; I readily admit that – Australia
is a particular case in point), but this is seen as “potential for a further volume”. Let’s see … first this volume has to sell better before any such ideas can be floated for real.
This is a review in a perhaps unexpected media outlet
– but it’s again largely positive, except that the author complains about my dark ratings, which are misunderstood as “tragedy rating”, which the reviewer finds “tactless”. If they were indeed there for weighing up tragedies against each other, I’d accept that, but that’s not what these ratings are for. Instead they are indicators as to how palpable whatever dark history associated with the location is for the visitor today
. A mere stone monument in a field simply doesn’t have the same effect as visiting, say, the rows of barracks at the Majdanek concentration camp
memorial. So the dark ratings are also intended as warning indicators as to how difficult and emotionally taxing a visit today may be. This could indeed have been made clearer in the book’s intro, and if there’s going to be another print run or second edition I will see to rectifying this.
The reviewer also claims that one of the figures given (the number of victims at Babi Yar
) is too low and provides a figure twice as high. But I based my figure on what’s given at the USHMM
archives, which I find generally one of the most reliable sources within this subject matter. Where the review author has his number from is not disclosed.
The reviewer also finds the inclusion of Bletchley Park
“hard to comprehend”, as this is seen rather as “a positive and inspiring place”. Well, one does not rule out the other. In fact quite a few dark destinations include inspiring and positive elements. And so does Bletchley Park (which, however, has a low dark rating, already indicating that it indeed isn’t overwhelmingly dark).
Another issue the reviewer has (something that never occurred to me) is that the release date late in October, coupled with the book’s dark cover design, could have led to the wrong expectation that this is a Halloween book, which obviously it absolutely isn’t. Interesting observation.
This is not exactly a review but more a feature
with plenty of excerpts and photos from the book – in an outlet that some may take issue with, as it’s the online counterpart of the infamous Daily Mail tabloid in Britain. To be fair, though, when it comes to dark tourism, this is one of the few of those usually sensationalist papers that has repeatedly featured aspects or subcategories of dark tourism in a fairly agreeable form. So the feature on that platform falls into a good pre-given groove.
I did not heed the advice never to read readers’ comments, I just couldn’t help it ... and of course there’s lots of random nonsense in there. One concrete point of factual criticism I can pick up, though: two commentators point out that Le Redoutable
is not actually the only “nuclear submarine” on public display, as the USS Nautilus and HMS Courageous are also on display as museum pieces. The point here is that, while these are also nuclear-powered, neither carried nuclear missiles – and it is in that sense of ‘nuclear’ that Le Redoutable is indeed unique as a museum vessel.
A similar overwiew with lots of quotes from the book can be found here
And this is not so much a review but a live interview with me about the book
, so also a “feature” of sorts, namely with an American (Chicago) TV station. It generally went well, I thought. Although I do have to admit that at one point I got metres and feet confused in the heat of the moment, thus making Le Redoutable seem three times the size it actually is. But otherwise I think I got my points across OK. (Just try to ignore the very badly auto-generated subtitles, which increasingly degenerate into gibberish.)
The book also featured in the print magazine “Metro”, a commuter magazine with a large circulation on London Transport, but I haven’t been able to track down an online counterpart of this feature.
NB! If any readers of this section are aware of yet more reviews of my Atlas of Dark Destination
not yet covered here, I’d be very grateful to hear about those – in that case please contact me