100 Places You Will Never Visit: The World’s Most Secret Places, by Daniel Smith
If you want to inflame your longing for travel to places that you will likely never be able to see, or want to find reasons why you never want to visit some other places, this is a good book to read. While many books about such places would be content to write stories, this is a book that provides the goods about places that are secretive, including satellite photos, maps, occasional photographs in these places, architectural plans, and reasonable speculations where evidence is scarce. This book makes for a wonderful book in that it examines in a reasonable way the reasons for secrecy without focusing on conspiracy theories and providing enough information to be curious about some locations and want nothing to do with others. Even better, the places chosen are around the world and have a great deal of variety as to why the locations are secret, some of them being corporate locations, some of them natural places of danger, and some of them being prisons, espionage sites, or military bases, some of which I have written about before .
The contents of the book are straightforward and make it an immensely pleasurable book to read, even if one is likely never to visit any of the places listed in it. A couple of the places, like Bohemian Grove and the Bilderberg Group Headquarters, are for elites of the Illuminati variety. Other places, like Naypyidaw, are for those who have business with the Burmese government, other places, like the Bang Kwang Central Prison, perhaps better known as the Bangkok Hilton, are places I have had nightmares about visiting. Not all of the places included are places that most people would want to visit—Snake Island in Brazil, for example, has a poisonous snake per 10 square feet on average of its island. Not being a fan of venomous snakes, this island does not sound like an enjoyable place to visit. Some of the places are well known, albeit not open to the public, while other places have not been officially confirmed to have existed. At least one of them used to exist on maps and then disappeared from maps to become a super-secret Israeli prison, not a place anyone would likely want to visit, as one’s visit is likely to be of an extended and unpleasant duration. All of these locations, though, are given as precise a location as possible with the nearest population hub, its security overview, a story about the history of the place, and supporting images and maps and architectural drawings as appropriate.
The result is a book that is well worth reading to anyone who is interested in off-limits sites. A rather large number of these sites are reputed to be part of the ECHELON system of sites that monitor internet and phone traffic around the world in the US, UK, and Australia, with various conspicuous radar domes, and at least a few of the sites have deadly levels of contamination from nuclear disasters or live munitions that have yet to explode. The sites demonstrate the tension of secrecy between places where light should be shone on places of dark deeds—like the various secret prisons included herein, places that have been lost because of the vagaries of history, like the Amber Room lost in World War II, or the mysterious tunnels in and around Bavaria that have unknown purpose, and other places whose secrecy is designed to protect corporate or public interests. The result is a book that is skillfully written to convey information while also preserve secrecy and the dignity of keeping certain matters secret, without giving vein to conspiracy theories. The achievement is a worthwhile one in that the author made a greatly readable book about secret places while maintaining fidelity to a realistic perspective, no mean feat.
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