Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster The definitive, dramatic untold story of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, based on original reporting and new archival researchApril in Chernobyl, was a turning point in world history The disaster not only changed the world s perception of nuclear power and the science that spawned it, but also our understanding of the planet s delicate ecology With the images of the abandoned homes and playgrounds beyond the barbed wire of thekilometer Exclusion Zone, the rusting graveyards of contaminated trucks and helicopters, the farmland lashed with black rain, the event fixed for all time the notion of radiation as an invisible killerChernobyl was also a key event in the destruction of the Soviet Union, and, with it, the United States victory in the Cold War For Moscow, it was a political and financial catastrophe as much as an environmental and scientific one With a total cost ofbillion rubles at the time equivalent tobillion Chernobyl bankrupted an already teetering economy and revealed to its population a state built upon a pillar of lies The full story of the events that started that night in the control room of Reactor No of the VI Lenin Nuclear Power Plant has never been told until now Through two decades of reporting, new archival information, and firsthand interviews with witnesses, journalist Adam Higginbotham tells the full dramatic story, including Alexander Akimov and Anatoli Dyatlov, who represented the best and worst of Soviet life denizens of a vanished world of secret policemen, internal passports, food lines, and heroic self sacrifice for the Motherland Midnight in Chernobyl, award worthy nonfiction that reads like sci fi, shows not only the final epic struggle of a dying empire but also the story of individual heroism and desperate, ingenious technical improvisation joining forces against a new kind of enemy Growing up during the 80s and the final stages of the cold war I remember many, big defining stories in the 80s and early 90s Reagan vs Gorbachev The arms race The fall of the Berlin Wall But, probably the biggest event with the longest lasting impact is the Chernobyl disaster.While the Berlin Wall falling was a big deal and has had a lasting impact on the political climate in Europe, there are very few remaining sections, some memorials, but any lasting visible impact is mainly relegated to Growing up during the 80s and the final stages of the cold war I remember many, big defining stories in the 80s and early 90s Reagan vs Gorbachev The arms race The fall of the Berlin Wall But, probably the biggest event with the longest lasting impact is the Chernobyl disaster.While the Berlin Wall falling was a big deal and has had a lasting impact on the political climate in Europe, there are very few remaining sections, some memorials, but any lasting visible impact is mainly relegated to history books and museums Chernobyl, on the other hand, has led to thousands of square miles of land that are still uninhabitable to this day and will be for decades to come Entire shells of cities crumbling barley touched since the hours after the event A gigantic metal and concrete sarcophagus concealing rubble that is too hot to move or cleanup and sits concealed as it was just moments after the reactor was destroyed.Midnight in Chernobyl is the story of that fateful night and the months afterward I have always been very interested in learningabout this event and was excited to finally read this It has me evenintrigued to watch the recent HBO mini series I learned so much from this book and now it is muchthan just stark pictures online and a footnote from my childhood.Two things to be aware of going in if you are interested in checking this out First, it does get very technical and scientific at times This may interest you or you may just need to push through it and say okay, yeah, nuclear science stuff okay, got it Second, there are LOTS of characters so there are LOTS of Russian names This can be difficult to keep track of There is a list of these at the beginning to help you keep track, but the list is pretty daunting, too.If you like history, remember this from your childhood and want to know , or a big fan of disaster books movies, this book is 100% worth checking out Had you asked me a week ago what I know about Chernobyl I d have been able to muster only one short phrase A nuclear accident in the former Soviet Union I couldn t have told you anythingthan that When my friend Beata reviewed this book, I realised how ignorant I was on this topic The review was enticing and I decided to read this book How happy I am that I did Shout out to Beata Midnight in Chernobyl reads like an apocalyptic thriller I did not want to put this book down Wow Aut Had you asked me a week ago what I know about Chernobyl I d have been able to muster only one short phrase A nuclear accident in the former Soviet Union I couldn t have told you anythingthan that When my friend Beata reviewed this book, I realised how ignorant I was on this topic The review was enticing and I decided to read this book How happy I am that I did Shout out to Beata Midnight in Chernobyl reads like an apocalyptic thriller I did not want to put this book down Wow Author Adam Higginbotham certainly did his homework This book is full of so much information about this, the worst nuclear accident in world history He tells of how the USSR cut corners during construction of their nuclear power plants in order to save money How the operators were ignorant of the risks and not properly trained How, during a rundown experiment of one of the reactors at Chernobyl there was an explosion How the men at the plant bravely risked their lives to put out the ensuing fire, several losing their lives and many others becoming gravely ill and suffering severe radiation burns Mr Higginbotham takes us on a nail biting, hair raising ride, detailing the fight to contain the fire and how many of those in charge were in denial of the severity of the accident It was anxiety inducing to read how they delayed evacuation of the citizens of nearby Pripyet because they didn t want word of the catastrophe to get out to the wider world It is absolutely horrifying how they allowed so many people to be exposed to dangerous levels of radiation and I just kept wanting to race back through time and warn those poor people The book goes on to tell of the clean up and investigation of the accident, and of the later repercussions to both humans and animals a total of 20,000 domestic and agricultural animals were killed by huntsmen due to their radiation levels The cleanup was vast, exposing evenpeople to the radioactive material However, only ten square kilometers of the zone would ever be truly decontaminated A total cleanup would have required nearly six hundred million tonnes of topsoil to have been removed and buried as nuclear waste I learned so much from this book and found it absolutely riveting I highly recommend it to anyone who would like to learnabout this incredible tragedy Evgeny Velikhov asked Deputy Minister Silayev to call Gorbachev with a message Tell him that our outhouse is overflowing, and they ll have to climb a mountain of shitMidnight in Chernobyl is a comprehensive account of the events leading up to and resulting from the meltdown of Reactor Number Four at Chernobyl power station It details not only the technical failures that led to the meltdown, but also the interpersonal dynamics and prevailing attitudes of secrecy and sycophancy within tEvgeny Velikhov asked Deputy Minister Silayev to call Gorbachev with a message Tell him that our outhouse is overflowing, and they ll have to climb a mountain of shitMidnight in Chernobyl is a comprehensive account of the events leading up to and resulting from the meltdown of Reactor Number Four at Chernobyl power station It details not only the technical failures that led to the meltdown, but also the interpersonal dynamics and prevailing attitudes of secrecy and sycophancy within the USSR governmental structure that contributed to the disaster It also explores the subsequent confusion around how to contain the nuclear fallout and the monumental efforts by so many firefighters, plant operators, scientists, doctors, and ordinary citizens to undo the damage and save lives.I went in knowing almost nothing about Chernobyl, and found it absolutely fascinating and eye opening The author did a great job building a cohesive narrative out of what must have been hundreds of people s testimonies and a considerable amount of data, likely obscured by secrecy and the passage of time I found I had no trouble understanding the technical explanations around how the reactor worked and what led to its ultimate meltdown.One of the things I found most interesting is the book s exploration of the part that cultural and interpersonal dysfunctions played in contributing to and exacerbating the after effects of the meltdown When General Pikalov forecast the decontamination work would take up to seven years to complete the hardline Politburo member Yegor Ligachev exploded in fury He told Pikalov he would have seven months And if you haven t done it by then, we ll relieve you of your Party card Esteemed Yegor Kuzmich, the general replied, if that is the situation, you needn t wait seven months to take my Party card You can have it nowThere were so many nuggets of gold like this one within the book The focus on each individual person, and their motivations and emotions, brought them to life on the pages It turned what could have been a dry nonfiction account into a captivating read.If you ve ever been curious about what happened at Chernobyl, I highly recommend this book It s accessible to the layman, and contains so many insightful and often inadvertently humorous passages on what went so horribly wrong and the heroic effort to set it right Especially at this time, when we are all dealing with a viral disaster in the making, it can offer a bit of relief to escape and read about a completely different disaster from the past The worst nuclear disaster in history occurred April 26th, 1986 in northern Ukraine Chernobyl s deputy chief engineer for science was the first to call back He calmly explained what he knew Unit Four had been taken off line for routine maintenance, and some kind of electrical tests were being carried out exactly what, he couldn t say During those tests, an accident had occurred.But when asked about the progress of emergency cooling of the core the vital work that would ensure Reactor Numb The worst nuclear disaster in history occurred April 26th, 1986 in northern Ukraine Chernobyl s deputy chief engineer for science was the first to call back He calmly explained what he knew Unit Four had been taken off line for routine maintenance, and some kind of electrical tests were being carried out exactly what, he couldn t say During those tests, an accident had occurred.But when asked about the progress of emergency cooling of the core the vital work that would ensure Reactor Number four could soon be repaired and brought back online the Chernobyl engineer s composure snapped abruptly There s nothing left to be cooled he shouted Then the line went dead As soon as government officials took charge of the emergency, saving face becameimportant than saving lives We need to evacuate everyone Scherbina snatched the phone from the energy minister s hand He s a panicker he yelled at Scherbitsky How are you going to evacuate all these people We ll be humiliated in front of the whole world Meanwhile a cloud of escaped radiation was heading for neighboring countriesIt s hard to tell what shorrifying the accident, the nightmarish clean up, or the higher ups attempts at downplaying the severity of the situation There are a lot of edge of your seat moments here, and, be warned, the author pulls no punches as he describes what it s like to die of radiation exposure A highly disturbing, but necessary read And, yet another reminder that the ones who call the shots won t be among the ones risking their lives Gorbachev told Slavsky he wanted the reactor sealed up by the end of the year Deaths were almost inevitable The octogenarian nuclear minister turned to his men Lads, you ll have to take the risk The Chernobyl disaster is an event that has fascinated me over the past couple of decades I was in my early teens when it actually happened and although I remember seeing the news stories about the disaster on TV, being an adolescent at the time with an adolescent s priorities, it didn t really register with me As I ve gotten older I have becomeinterested in reading about historical events that took place either before I was born or when I was too young to fully appreciate the significan The Chernobyl disaster is an event that has fascinated me over the past couple of decades I was in my early teens when it actually happened and although I remember seeing the news stories about the disaster on TV, being an adolescent at the time with an adolescent s priorities, it didn t really register with me As I ve gotten older I have becomeinterested in reading about historical events that took place either before I was born or when I was too young to fully appreciate the significance of them I ve read a couple of books about Chernobyl in the past but neither really answered the questions that I had fully They scratched the surface but never dug into the nuts and bolts of the chain of occurances that caused the worst nuclear disaster in the history of the world When I saw this title on Netgalley, I thought maybe this will be the one I was approved for a free review copy a few weeks ago and have been obsessed with this book ever since, having just finished it late last night Here s what my conclusion is with regard to Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham If you read only one book about the disaster of Chernobyl, this is the only one that you should read To say that it is comprehensive is a profound understatement The book begins in the late 1960 s covering the USSR s budding nuclear program We learn how the idea of Chernobyl was born and we are taken through the very beginnings of the construction of both the reactors and the town in Pripyat that would house the tens of thousands of workers and their families Higginbotham then gradually breaks down the entire evening morning leading up to the catastrophic meltdown This is where I was absolutely flabbergasted as numerous warning flags were raised and either ignored or taken as not so serious If even one of these warning flags were caught or taken seriously, this catastrophe might have been averted The book then describes the eventual evacuation of the town surrounding the power plant and also the attempted coverups by the government to minimize the seriousness of what occured Midnight in Chernobyl was one of the best non fiction reads I have had in quite some time Even though the subject matter is at times very difficult to get through, the book is impeccably researched and just so well written that you can t stop reading This book won t be released until February of 2019, but I highly recommend pre ordering it onYou will be both informed and amazed at the history of this horrible accident Riveting, horrifying, absolutely STELLAR reporting I have always been fascinated in horror at the Chernobyl disaster and this book was JUST what I needed to wrap my mind around it The only criticism I can possibly think of is that I would have loved even MORE pictures but I was able to find tons on The Atlantic and Nat Geo and Time online to fulfill my need for visual confirmation What I found evenfascinating about this account than the many articles I had read previously was the deta Riveting, horrifying, absolutely STELLAR reporting I have always been fascinated in horror at the Chernobyl disaster and this book was JUST what I needed to wrap my mind around it The only criticism I can possibly think of is that I would have loved even MORE pictures but I was able to find tons on The Atlantic and Nat Geo and Time online to fulfill my need for visual confirmation What I found evenfascinating about this account than the many articles I had read previously was the detailed analysis of the role that the Soviet culture and politics played in the cause of the disaster, and the impact that disaster had on the downfall of the Soviet empire.I can t recommend this book highly enough FYI, I have zero background knowledge of nuclear science whatsoever and was able to grasp enough in this book to understand what happened Also, don t let the size intimidate you almost a 1 4 of the book is endnotes Higginbotham holds our attention with his focus on the human side of the tragedy at Chernobyl We learn about those working at the plant that fateful night, their backgrounds, their daily lives, their families and friends Thus as Higginbotham describes the unfolding of the disaster in a blow by blow account, we can feel their dismay as their lives and their world come apart In addition to a riveting account of the night of the disaster and the chaotic days following, Higginbotham explains the Higginbotham holds our attention with his focus on the human side of the tragedy at Chernobyl We learn about those working at the plant that fateful night, their backgrounds, their daily lives, their families and friends Thus as Higginbotham describes the unfolding of the disaster in a blow by blow account, we can feel their dismay as their lives and their world come apart In addition to a riveting account of the night of the disaster and the chaotic days following, Higginbotham explains the reasons for the nuclear reactor s failure and the wider impact on Soviet society We get a glimpse of what it was like to live in the 1980s Soviet Union under a dysfunctional authoritarian government The tragedy is explored at three levels First there is the human toll, the suffering and death, and the displacement of over one hundred thousand people Then there is the technical failure of the reactor and the failure of the scientists and administrators that culminated in the disaster Lastly there is the deeper underlying issue of autocratic and expedient Soviet governance that led to all the suffering and failures and made them worse with an ill prepared inept response.The town of Pripyat was built near the Chernobyl atomic power station to provide places to live for the men and women who constructed, maintained and operated the plant Fifty thousand people were living there including many families with children on April, 26 1986 when reactor number four exploded spewing huge amounts of radioactive particles high into the air The scientists and technicians working at the plant at first denied the seriousness of the accident They did not believe it possible for the reactor to explode Many of them would succumb to radiation poisoning For the first 36 hours, the people of the town were misled by the authorities who told them everything was under control Soviet leaders did not want to create panic and did not want negative press But the core of the reactor had destroyed itself creating a radioactive fire that could not be extinguished by conventional means Microscopic radioactive particles kept falling on the town as people unaware went about their everyday Saturday and Sunday activities, many of them outside on an otherwise pleasant spring day Suddenly they were told that they would have to evacuate Over a thousand buses were lined up The townspeople were told to just take what they needed for two or three days The buses deposited them one by one with rural and small town families in the countryside who were told to take them in.Pripyat would never be reopened Lied to by the authorities, it slowly dawned on its former citizens they would never return They would be permanently resettled as would thousandsin nearby areas as the extent of the contamination was uncovered Radioactive particles were dispersed far and near following the whims of the winds and rain Kiev, over 100 kilometers away, closed its schools in mid May and evacuated hundreds of thousands of children, their mothers and expectant mothers They were scattered around Ukraine, many to summer camps and some even to Crimean resorts Staff and first responders at the plant that night showing signs of acute radiation sickness were sent without notifying their families to a hospital in Moscow Many would never see their loved ones again Thirty of them would die from radiation sickness The descriptions of their deaths are horrifying as visible injuries heal and the patient appears to get better only to succumb to the relentless radiation from particles inside the body destroying vital organs and tissues Thousands of others from Pripyat and other contaminated areas would die early deaths as radiation weakened immune systems and induced cancers.What caused the accident Primarily it was poor design Higginbotham gets into the technical details which I ll skip Basically to operate safely, the reactor required constant attention by the operators The faulty design was the product of an insular scientific establishment led by a bureaucracy enad with its own creations They were also under great pressure to get the reactors built fast and cheap, thus many design steps were skipped and readily available technology adopted even if not the best The designers recognized some of the inherent weaknesses of their reactors, but felt conscientious operation would prevent any problems They wrote reams of instructions and procedures, but were careful not to expose the underlying design faults that required them The Soviet leadership always wanted to present a face to the world of technical superiority Covering up faults was common practice A secondary problem was the training and rules governing the operators While Higginbotham presents all of them as capable and well intentioned, they weren t always prepared for the job at hand The accident occurred while running a test, one they hadn t run before or practiced Mistakes were made The reactor became unstable for reasons the operators never could have anticipated or understood because the relevant information was hidden from them by the designers They all were sure that under no circumstances could the reactor explode It took many hours after the explosion for the operators and their management to believe that it actually did Also, reactor operators were not always in the best condition to perform critical tasks A key mistake was made during the test by an operator who had not slept for thirty six hours Higginbotham notes some operators would drink before coming to work Higginbotham portrays heavy drinking as common in the community Higginbotham spends much of the book on the response to the reactor explosion and the radioactive contamination It begins with first responders trying to put out the fire and determine the extent of the damage Apparently unaware of how dangerously radioactive the area was, many would suffer from acute radiation sickness Radioactive debris was spread all around the reactor There was no way to get close to it and live Everyone was afraid of another explosion or the China Syndrome If the remains of the core sunk into the earth, it could contaminate the water supply for the heavily populated Kiev Team after team of government officials and workman would engage in cleanup effort after cleanup effort taking years as one approach after another failed to achieve results Over 600,000 people were engaged in the cleanup effort, many conscripted for the work and many ruining their health A major impediment to the cleanup was the Soviet leadership s refusal to admit the true causes of the disaster and the enormity of the damage and contamination Government leaders and their scientific functionaries remained insular and did not seek help from other countries All remediation plans were homegrown often decided by those with power but little expertise.The Chernobyl disaster cost the Soviet Union an amount equal to its entire 1989 defense budget As the public realized it was continually being lied to and word spread about the true extent of the devastation and the fumbling attempts to deal with it, people lost faith in their government Gorbachev said Chernobyl was a primary reason for the Soviet Union falling apart In 2016, exactly thirty years later, the Ukrainian president gave a speech dedicating a huge new structure being built to further contain the remnants of the still highly radioactive reactor He too noted that the Chernobyl disaster was an important factor in the breakup of the Soviet Union and Ukraine s independence He recognized the 115,000 people who would never return to Pripyat and the Exclusion Zone He acknowledged that 2,500,000 people were living on contaminated land and that the state was still making payments to hundreds of thousands of people disabled by the accident The Exclusion Zone extends 30 kilometers from Chernobyl covering 1,000 square miles While not safe for permanent habitation, there are tours offered Everyone s radiation level is monitored and there are signs warning of hot spots Nature has been resurgent in the zone Fears of three headed cows did not come true although genetic changes have been detected in plants and animals Wildlife has prospered in the absence of humans with wolves, bears, elk, lynx and other native species forming a vibrant ecosystem.Higginbotham has done a masterful job of research He provides extensive notes He interviewed people that were there, members of their families, people involved in the Soviet nuclear program at the time and people involved in the containment effort He was able to access files only recently available Perhaps most important he made this remarkable book one we want to read by putting the human story first Today when nuclear power plants are still being built and seen as a way to help stem climate change, his book is highly relevant Taken together with the Fukushima disaster and the partial reactor meltdown at Three Mile Island, it makes one pause to consider whether the risk is worth it I am convinced it isn t Surreal and demoralizing, Midnight in Chernobyl tells the true story of the worst nuclear accident in the history of the world This statement by one of the officers from the Department of Internal Affairs of the former USSR sums it up He wrote in the official log on that horrible morning, about six hours after the explosion, at 7 07 a.m., thatThe situation is normal The radiation level is rising These two opposing statements tell the story of a group of bureaucrats so invested in th Surreal and demoralizing, Midnight in Chernobyl tells the true story of the worst nuclear accident in the history of the world This statement by one of the officers from the Department of Internal Affairs of the former USSR sums it up He wrote in the official log on that horrible morning, about six hours after the explosion, at 7 07 a.m., thatThe situation is normal The radiation level is rising These two opposing statements tell the story of a group of bureaucrats so invested in their careers and frozen by shock that the manager of the plant never gave the order to evacuate the town of Pripyat which was 2 miles away The leaders of the plant were crazed and couldn t or wouldn t act to save lives, those of their workers or the town s people They also actively sought to cover it up This criminal negligence was also done by the government of the USSR They hid the accident from the world and also their own people.They also started looking for scapegoats The design of the reactors there were four online and 2being built at Chernobyl were faulty from the start, because of their unsafe design Many physicists had pointed out 2 major problems with them, but were ignored Later, it was acknowledged that several smaller accidents had happened with these reactors in different places in Soviet Russia, but had been hushed up As a member of the IAEA, the Soviets were supposed to report any nuclear accidents, but secrecy was king.The designers of this particular reactor had ignored 10 years of warnings.Also, and this is horrific, apparently, radiation poisoning was not understood well by the workers or the plant managers who had little to no safety equipment, no high powered showers, many men injured in the plant wore the same canvas uniforms for days before being treated One poor man had walked through radioactive waste water and his skin came off in strips later After the accident was over, they sent firefighters directly into the building without protection.These same plant workers who suffered cruel deaths in mere days and weeks after the accident were later found guilty and blamed for the accident and their heroic sacrifice to try and shut down the reactor were not recognized until recently There had been mistakes made, but if a safe shutdown system had been designed, the reactor would have never melted down This accident and its effect on the economy was one of the things that eventually lead to the breakdown of the former Soviet Union A expertly detailed and fascinating read of the nuclear power plant disaster in Chernobyl on the morning of 26th of April 1986.I ve always been interested in the disaster but it was the award winning HBO series that has led me to want to learn.Why this account makes for a perfect addition is the detailed backstory that Higginbotham introduces the reader, as he makes this incident eventragic.The city of Pripyat that was founded in 1970 to serve the nearby power plant sounded so perfect A expertly detailed and fascinating read of the nuclear power plant disaster in Chernobyl on the morning of 26th of April 1986.I ve always been interested in the disaster but it was the award winning HBO series that has led me to want to learn.Why this account makes for a perfect addition is the detailed backstory that Higginbotham introduces the reader, as he makes this incident eventragic.The city of Pripyat that was founded in 1970 to serve the nearby power plant sounded so perfectly ideal.Whilst both the political landscape and the science behind the physics involved is still prevalent throughout, it s the human cost of this tragedy remains the main focus of this meticulous and harrowing true retelling


About the Author: Adam Higginbotham

Is a well known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster book, this is one of the most wanted Adam Higginbotham author readers around the world.


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