The dramatic untold story of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, based on original reporting and new archival research.
Early in the morning of 26 April 1986, Reactor Number Four at Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering the 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 not only its own citizens, but all of humanity. But the real story of the accident, clouded from the beginning by secrecy, propaganda and misinformation, has long remained in dispute.
Drawing on hundreds or hours of interviews conducted over the course of more than ten years, as well as letters, unpublished memoirs, and documents from recently declassified archives, Adam Higginbotham has written a harrowing and compelling narrative that brings the disaster to life through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed it,
Midnight in Chernobyl is the definitive account of an event that changed history: a story that is more complex, more human, and more terrifying than the Soviet myth, and provides an indelible portrait of one of the great catastrophes of the twentieth century.
Midnight in Chernobyl is a brilliantly constructed book of facts from the events leading up to the nuclear explosion to how the Soviet union handled the situation after the terrible event that occured in April 1986 and I will admit whilst reading this book I mumbled the words ‘what the very fuck’ at pretty much every page.
Why you may ask? Well, if you think you know the events of Chernobyl think again. This book will shock you and leave you speechless at every turn, from how the reactors were constructed to how the state tried to cover up any wrongdoing, even going as far as denying an explosion had happened within their borders when governments in Europe began to notice something wasn’t right. Even after these terrible events, they still sent their people into the forbidden zone ill prepared for what hazards awaited them for months if not years!
One of the things I found interesting about this book was that quite frankly prior to picking this up I didn’t actually know how nuclear power or a nuclear reactor worked, yet Higginbotham explained it all so simply without dumbing it down too much for the reader so that you end up fully understanding how the events of that dreadful night unfolded.
Furthermore, rather then this being a book that paints nuclear reactors to be the work of the devil, Higginbotham doesn’t create a bias and briefly explains how nuclear reactors have evolved through the decades to become more ‘safe’ / how scientists are modifying them to help with our current climate situation.
Yet his main aim of this book seems to be to tell the stories of the men and women who were at the heart of this emergency, be it the people living in pripyat at the time, the reactor workers, the firemen or the soldiers (who were deployed to clear the debris away once the robots failed) to the hospital workers and the victims families. In fact Higginbotham tells the stories so well I was urging them in my mind not to go to work that evening, or to please be okay after being exposed to such high levels of radiation and gamar as if I could somehow rewrite the history of their lives.
So if the recent HBO series has left you wanting to know more, or if you’ve ever been curious about Chernobyl I would urge you on to pick up a copy of Midnight in Chernobyl as I honestly thought I knew everything I needed to know from various websites, but boy was I wrong!