Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe

Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe

by Serhii Plokhy


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A Chernobyl survivor and award-winning historian "mercilessly chronicles the absurdities of the Soviet system" in this "vividly empathetic" account of the worst nuclear accident in history (The Wall Street Journal).

On the morning of April 26, 1986, Europe witnessed the worst nuclear disaster in history: the explosion of a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Soviet Ukraine. Dozens died of radiation poisoning, fallout contaminated half the continent, and thousands fell ill.

In Chernobyl, Serhii Plokhy draws on new sources to tell the dramatic stories of the firefighters, scientists, and soldiers who heroically extinguished the nuclear inferno. He lays bare the flaws of the Soviet nuclear industry, tracing the disaster to the authoritarian character of the Communist party rule, the regime's control over scientific information, and its emphasis on economic development over all else.

Today, the risk of another Chernobyl looms in the mismanagement of nuclear power in the developing world. A moving and definitive account, Chernobyl is also an urgent call to action.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781541617070
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 03/10/2020
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 73,390
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Serhii Plokhy is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History and director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University. The author of The Gates of Europe and The Man with the Poison Gun, most recently, Plokhy is an award-winning author of numerous books. He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Maps v

Preface vii

Prologue 3

I Wormwood

Chapter 1 Congress 7

Chapter 2 Road to Chernobyl 23

Chapter 3 Power Plant 39

II Inferno

Chapter 4 Friday Night 59

Chapter 5 Explosion 75

Chapter 6 Fire 87

Chapter 7 Denial 101

III Atop the Volcano

Chapter 8 High Commission 121

Chapter 9 Exodus 137

Chapter 10 Taming the Reactor 157

IV Invisible Enemy

Chapter 11 Deadly Silence 173

Chapter 12 Exclusion Zone 189

Chapter 13 China Syndrome 203

Chapter 14 Counting Lives 217

V Reckoning

Chapter 15 War of Words 233

Chapter 16 Sarcophagus 249

Chapter 17 Crime and Punishment 267

VI New Day

Chapter 18 Writers' Block 285

Chapter 19 Nuclear Revolt 301

Chapter 20 Independent Atom 317

Chapter 21 Global Shelter 331

Epilogue 345

Acknowledgments 351

Note on Radiation Impact and Measurements 353

Notes 355

Index 389

Photographs follow page 216

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