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Often, it starts with a good idea. Build a luxury resort or formidable prison. Race to a gold-mining boom town or bankroll an amusement park. But then the troubles start, sometimes all at once, with war or a natural disaster, and sometimes more slowly, due to economic decline or changing social forces. And sometimes somebody just does something plain stupid. The result is the haunting locations found in these pages, the abandoned towns, castles, hospitals, mansions, penitentiaries, theme parks, hotels and military bases. They all exist in that haunting dual realm of what once was and what will never be, of dreams dashed and hopes never to be realized. These desolate, forgotten places force us to take stock: to confront personal and institutional failures, poor decision-making, unforeseen complications, sudden catastrophe, slow deterioration and plain bad luck. They are empty yet bursting with memories, the happiest of which somehow leave us feeling the saddest. They force us to look at ourselves.
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