Waiting for the End of the World

by Richard Ross

Reviewed December 30, 2005

Book CoverWaiting for the End of the World is a photographic journey into the world of shelters. The book is put together by Richard Ross, photography professor at UC Santa Barbara since 1977, and principal photographer for the J. Paul Getty Museum's villa restoration project. Ross explores this quirky underworld of efforts by people to survive a catastrophe whether it be natural or nuclear. The book takes the viewer around the world and back through time as it examines man's attempt to survive. The concept of creating a protective shelter from an invading army is not a new concept. Ross shows us shelters in Beijing, where the Chinese built a complete city underground, and Hittite shelters in Eastern Turkey built some 4,000 years ago.

He also takes us on tours of a converted bomb shelter in St. Petersburg, Russia that has become a trendy nightclub and of the upscale resort in West Virginia, the Greenbriar, that was to serve as the shelter for the U.S. Congress. The book continues its journey by viewing shelters in England, Vietnam, Switzerland and the American west.

Minimal text accompanies each image, allowing each reader to form their own opinions about what they are viewing. Overall, it is a beautifully presented gallery of man's response to his need to survive the possibly unsurvivable.