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  • Published: 7 May 2019
  • ISBN: 9780141988351
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $19.99

Chernobyl

History of a Tragedy




A dramatic, minute-by-minute account of one of the most shattering events of the Cold War, from an award-winning historian

On the morning of 26 April 1986 Europe witnessed the worst nuclear disaster in history: the explosion of a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Soviet Ukraine. The outburst put the world on the brink of nuclear annihilation. In the end, less than five percent of the reactor's fuel escaped, but that was enough to contaminate over half of Europe with radioactive fallout.

In Chernobyl, Serhii Plokhy recreates these events in all of their drama, telling the stories of the firefighters, scientists, engineers, workers, soldiers, and policemen who found themselves caught in a nuclear Armageddon and succeeded in doing the seemingly impossible: extinguishing the nuclear inferno and putting the reactor to sleep. While it is clear that the immediate cause of the accident was a turbine test gone wrong, Plokhy shows how the deeper roots of Chernobyl lay in the nature of the Soviet political system and the flaws of its nuclear industry. A little more than five years later, the Soviet Union would fall apart, destroyed from within by its unsustainable communist ideology and the dysfunctional managerial and economic systems laid bare in the wake of the disaster.

A poignant, fast paced account of the drama of heroes, perpetrators, and victims, Chernobyl is the definitive history of the world's worst nuclear disaster.

  • Published: 7 May 2019
  • ISBN: 9780141988351
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $19.99

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Praise for Chernobyl

As moving as it is painstakingly researched, this book is a tour de force and a cracking read. . . Without losing any detail or nuance, Plokhy has a knack for making complicated things simple while still profound

Viv Groskop, Observer

A work of deep scholarship and powerful stroytelling. Plokhy is the master of the telling detail

Victor Sebestyen, Sunday 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

The first comprehensive history of the Chernobyl disaster. . . here at last is the monumental history the disaster deserves

Julie McDowall, The Times

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

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

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

A masterful retelling. . . Mr Plokhy's book will endure as a definitive history

Economist

A riveting account of human error and state duplicity. . . rightly being hailed as a classic

Hannah Betts, Daily Telegraph

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