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Book Review: Frommer’s 500 Places To See Before They Disappear

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Frommer’s 500 Places To See Before They Disappear is both a travel book and a conservation guide of sorts. It encourages travel to the endangered places, not so much as to see them before they’re gone, but to contribute toward their preservation or rescue.

I was feeling pretty smug as I started paging through the book prior to reading. The first five places, I’d been to four of them. Hah! Take that, Frommer’s! Then it was five of ten, then six of 20. Oh, well, I was off to a good start, anyway.

But seriously, even if you’re not a traveler, there’s plenty in this book for you. Armchair travelers can celebrate. Ecologists, amateur or professional, re-arm yourselves and prepare to fight. Diehard tourists: pack! These places are worth saving. Actually, every place on Earth, the ugliest, hottest, coldest, driest, yuckiest – they’re all worth saving. It’s become trite and clichéd, but it still holds: this is the only planet we’ve got. The only inhabitable one, that is.

Places To See takes a broadbrush approach to outlining the areas that are in need of attention – some soon, some immediately. But 500 places? There must be closer to 5000 in the world, but 500 is a good start. The guide gives you the broad overview, but you’ll have to do some homework for details. It points you to cultural as well as natural resources, from the wilds of Africa to the wilds of New York City.

Each of the entries gives you not only the geographic detail you’ll need, it also gives you the why and what you can do about it. Many places you’ll have heard of, at least. Others will be an education to you. All will — or at least should — be important to you. And following each of the descriptions are essential tips on tour operators, hotels with prices shown in local perspective, visitors bureaus, and travel options.

So get cracking, people. Invite others to accompany you, because the more people who become interested, the more likely it becomes that that particular resource will be saved. And work-wise, it’s much easier to finish a chore when you’ve got 50 people doing it than when you have five.

Extras not covered above include plenty of photos, an index, and many sites not mentioned previously.

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About Lou Novacheck