Photo Book

The Long Shadow of Chernobyl Photo Book

A Retrospective Photo Book by Gerd Ludwig


Captivating images of National Geographic photographer Gerd Ludwig’s nine visits to Chernobyl in 20 years tell us tragic stories of the life of the victims, the Exclusion Zone and the abandoned city of Pripyat. Ludwig ventured deeper into the belly of the beast than any Western photographer, repeatedly documenting the destroyed rector #4, which will disappear under a New Safe Confinement for at least 100 years. Bordering the site of the worst nuclear disaster to date, the abandoned city of Pripyat might face a similar destiny as authorities decide what to do with it.

“As engaged photographers,” says Ludwig, “we often report about human tragedies in the face of disaster, and take our cameras to uncharted areas with the understanding that our explorations are not without personal risk. We do this out of a deep commitment to important stories told on behalf of otherwise voiceless victims.” An essay by Mikhail Gorbachev, the last head of state of the Soviet Union, accompanies Gerd Ludwig’s emotional visual narrative. This book is an important body of documentary work in view of the ongoing nuclear disaster in Fukushima 25 years later.


  • Hardcover with a slipcase, 11×12 inches
  • 118 photographs on 252 pages
  • Trilingual in English, German, and French
  • Essay by Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Quotes from Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich
  • Divided into 4 chapters: Victims, Pripyat, The Zone, and Reactor #4
  • Redacted CIA documents, a map, and additional resources
  • Published by Edition Lammerhuber in Vienna, Austria

Purchase The Long Shadow of Chernobyl Photo Book


VICTIMS: At the core of Ludwig’s photographs are the people who continue to suffer this tragedy – they exposed their suffering in the hope of preventing future tragedies like Chernobyl.
PRIPYAT: The crumbling city Pripyat is marked by post-apocalyptic scenes of abandonment – trees growing through streets, schools rotting, and apartment buildings littered with the personal belongings left behind by those who hastily fled their homes in fear.
THE ZONE: In the Exclusion Zone, elderly returnees came back to live out their lives on their own soil, despite the radioactive contamination.
RESOURCES: Redacted CIA documents, a map, detailed captions, a personal essay by Gerd Ludwig, and additional resources give readers in-depth information about the disaster in English, German, and French.
CONTRIBUTORS: An essay by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev provides historical context, and quotes from the book Voices from Chernobyl, by award-winning author Svetlana Alexievich, provide first-hand accounts of the disaster.