Midnight in Chernobyl : The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster
by Adam Higginbotham


Overview - NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Journalist Adam Higginbotham's definitive, years-in-the-making account of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster--and a powerful investigation into how propaganda, secrecy, and myth have obscured the true story of one of the twentieth century's greatest disasters.

Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering history's worst nuclear disaster. In the thirty years since then, Chernobyl has become lodged in the collective nightmares of the world: shorthand for the spectral horrors of radiation poisoning, for a dangerous technology slipping its leash, for ecological fragility, and for what can happen when a dishonest and careless state endangers its citizens and the entire world. But the real story of the accident, clouded from the beginning by secrecy, propaganda, and misinformation, has long remained in dispute.

Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews conducted over the course of more than ten years, as well as letters, unpublished memoirs, and documents from recently-declassified archives, Adam Higginbotham has written a harrowing and compelling narrative which brings the disaster to life through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed it firsthand. The result is a masterful nonfiction thriller, and the definitive account of an event that changed history: a story that is more complex, more human, and more terrifying than the Soviet myth.

Midnight in Chernobyl is an indelible portrait of one of the great disasters of the twentieth century, of human resilience and ingenuity, and the lessons learned when mankind seeks to bend the natural world to his will--lessons which, in the face of climate change and other threats, remain not just vital but necessary.

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More About Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham
 
 
 
Overview
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Journalist Adam Higginbotham's definitive, years-in-the-making account of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster--and a powerful investigation into how propaganda, secrecy, and myth have obscured the true story of one of the twentieth century's greatest disasters.

Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering history's worst nuclear disaster. In the thirty years since then, Chernobyl has become lodged in the collective nightmares of the world: shorthand for the spectral horrors of radiation poisoning, for a dangerous technology slipping its leash, for ecological fragility, and for what can happen when a dishonest and careless state endangers its citizens and the entire world. But the real story of the accident, clouded from the beginning by secrecy, propaganda, and misinformation, has long remained in dispute.

Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews conducted over the course of more than ten years, as well as letters, unpublished memoirs, and documents from recently-declassified archives, Adam Higginbotham has written a harrowing and compelling narrative which brings the disaster to life through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed it firsthand. The result is a masterful nonfiction thriller, and the definitive account of an event that changed history: a story that is more complex, more human, and more terrifying than the Soviet myth.

Midnight in Chernobyl is an indelible portrait of one of the great disasters of the twentieth century, of human resilience and ingenuity, and the lessons learned when mankind seeks to bend the natural world to his will--lessons which, in the face of climate change and other threats, remain not just vital but necessary.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781501134616
  • ISBN-10: 1501134612
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publish Date: February 2019
  • Page Count: 560
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds


Related Categories

Books > History > Russia & the Former Soviet Union
Books > Social Science > Disasters & Disaster Relief
Books > Technology & Engineering > Power Resources - Nuclear

 
BookPage Reviews

Midnight in Chernobyl

One weird feature of the little-understood phenomenon of radiation poisoning is that after the initial acute nausea, there is a latency period when many people feel OK. The Soviet soldiers under Captain “Moose” Zborovsky, for example, were able to slosh around for an hour in potentially lethal, gamma-emitting water while they desperately repaired the ruptured drainage under the melting core of Chernobyl’s Reactor Four, and at the time merely felt “exhausted, with an odd taste of sour apples in their mouths.”

Were these men heroic, servile, foolhardy or ignorant? This is one of many questions that will swirl in the minds of readers of Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster, Adam Higginbotham’s spellbinding book about the April 1986 nuclear explosion at Chernobyl. Based on nearly 80 interviews with survivors and a deep dive into declassified Soviet documents, this account pulses with the human dramas that unfolded as people, including more than half a million conscripts, contended with the deadly explosion and its aftermath.

Midnight in Chernobyl also offers profound insights into the failing Soviet system as Mikhail Gorbachev tried to save it with a new openness.” Despite the new policy, there was much the aging bureaucracy could not readily admit. In a competition with the West, the Soviets had supersized their reactors and, it turns out, deployed a flawed design. A push for speedy construction led to shortcuts and substandard materials. Yet, in what would be the last show-trial of the flagging regime, the explosion was blamed on operator error, and the plant director, knowing the script, went to prison without protest. The Soviets also failed to track the effects of radiation on the many people who worked in the contaminated zone, so to this date, the lethal legacy of the blast is not fully known. Growing public awareness of the cover-up contributed to distrust and the eventual collapse of the regime.

This is an excellent, enthralling account of the disaster and its fallout.

 

This article was originally published in the February 2019 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
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