Chernobyl
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Chernobyl : History of a Tragedy

4.23 (354 ratings by Goodreads)
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*WINNER OF THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION 2018*

'As moving as it is painstakingly researched. . . a cracking read' Viv Groskop, Observer

On 26 April 1986 at 1.23am a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Soviet Ukraine exploded. While the authorities scrambled to understand what was occurring, workers, engineers, firefighters and those living in the area were abandoned to their fate. The blast put the world on the brink of nuclear annihilation, contaminating over half of Europe with radioactive fallout.

In Chernobyl, award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy draws on recently opened archives to recreate these events in all their drama. A moment by moment account of the heroes, perpetrators and victims of a tragedy, Chernobyl is the first full account of a gripping, unforgettable Cold War story.

'A compelling history of the 1986 disaster and its aftermath . . . plunges the reader into the sweaty, nervous tension of the Chernobyl control room on that fateful night when human frailty and design flaws combined to such devastating effect' Daniel Beer, Guardian

'Haunting ... near-Tolstoyan. His voice is humane and inflected with nostalgia' Roland Elliott Brown, Spectator

'Extraordinary, vividly written, powerful storytelling ... the first full-scale history of the world's worst nuclear disaster, one of the defining moments in the Cold War, told minute by minute' Victor Sebestyen Sunday Times

'Plays out like a classical tragedy ... fascinating' Julian Evans, Daily Telegraph

'Here at last is the monumental history the disaster deserves' Julie McDowall, The Times
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Product details

  • Paperback | 432 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 24mm | 315g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0141988355
  • 9780141988351
  • 28,057

Review Text

An insightful and important book, that often reads like a good thriller, and that exposes the danger of mixing powerful technology with irresponsible politics Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens
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Review quote

A meticulous account of the disaster - and how the Soviet authorities tried to cover it up. . . A worthy winner of this year's Baillie Gifford prize for nonfiction -- Robbie Millen * The Times Books of the Year * Plokhy, a Harvard professor of Ukrainian background, is ideally placed to tell the harrowing story of Chernobyl. . . he has an immense knowledge of Russian and Ukrainian history and maintains the highest standards of scholarship -- Tony Barber * Financial Times * The first comprehensive history of the Chernobyl disaster. . . here at last is the monumental history the disaster deserves -- Julie McDowall * The Times * A compelling history of the 1986 disaster and its aftermath. . . Plokhy's well-paced narrative plunges the reader into the sweaty, nervous tension of the Chernobyl control room -- Daniel Beer * Guardian * A work of deep scholarship and powerful stroytelling. Plokhy is the master of the telling detail -- Victor Sebestyen * Sunday Times * This history reads like an academic thriller written by Malcolm Gladwell. Without losing any detail or nuance, Plokhy has a knack for making complicated things simple while still profound. As moving as it is painstakingly researched, this book is a tour de force and a cracking read -- Viv Groskop * Observer * An insightful and important book, that often reads like a good thriller, and that exposes the danger of mixing powerful technology with irresponsible politics -- Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens
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About Serhii Plokhy

Serhii Plokhy is Professor of History at Harvard University and a leading authority on Eastern Europe whose previous books include Lost Kingdom, The Gates of Europe and The Last Empire. At the time of the Chernobyl explosion he lived behind the Iron Curtain less than 500 kilometres downstream of the damaged reactor.
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Rating details

354 ratings
4.23 out of 5 stars
5 38% (135)
4 48% (169)
3 14% (48)
2 1% (2)
1 0% (0)
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