Chernobyl

The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe
Narrated by: Ralph Lister
Length: 14 hrs and 52 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,391 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From a preeminent historian of Eastern Europe, the definitive history of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 

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 Communist party rule, the regime's control of 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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2018 Serhii Plokhy (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Serhii Plokhy has produced a highly [listenable] account of the Chernobyl disaster and its political impact. It is destined to be the authoritative account for years to come." (John Herbst, Director, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council)

"Serhii Plokhy is uniquely qualified to tell this tragic story: he writes not only as a major historian, but also as someone who was living with his family under the cloud of the Chernobyl disaster at the time. The result is as riveting as a novel." (Mary Elise Sarotte, author of The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall

"Serhii Plokhy provides the definitive story of the Chernobyl crisis and its aftermath, skillfully covering all angles from the scientific story, the humanitarian and economic costs of the clean-up, the manner in which the explosion forced Gorbachev to jump-start his perestroika reforms, and the igniting of Ukrainian nationalism." (Andrew Wilson, Professor of Ukrainian Studies, UCL)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Companions to Each Other

​I just watched the final episode of Chernobyl on HBO and I just got through the book. I feel that I got a crash course on history. Serhii Plokhy's research on this horrific disaster was spot on with Johan Renck's show. I got the political side of what happened in USSR in the book and also got the visual effects and human suffering from the TV show. It was the perfect combination on what happened. The two are perfect companions to each other.

39 people found this helpful

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Well Worth the Time

This book held my interest from the first minute. It is a very interesting look at a huge event. What I found particularly unique is that the book is told from a Soviet perspective without the propaganda. I felt genuinely sorry for the people who were on scene.

I expected to learn about the disaster but was pleasantly surprised at how much I learned about the event, people, landscape, and system around the plant.

I highly recommend this book if you like this kind of book.

47 people found this helpful

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If you're alive, Chernobyl has affected you.

This book was excellent. It provides a very comprehensive view of the whole Chernobyl catastrophe--both at the international socio-political level, right down to the very personal level. From the details of living in the secret Soviet nuclear city of Pripyat to how Soviet coverup of the disaster helped add nails to the USSR's coffin. This is to say nothing of the tragic personal stories of the men and women whose health was sacrificed in the name of the Soviet nuclear machine. Will leave you wondering just how this accident over 30 years ago in the Ukraine has affected the world and physical health of every person alive.

Really appreciated the performer, as well. Sounds like an authoritative British professor. Also has great facility with the Russian/Ukrainian language in the story. A+

30 people found this helpful

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So So...

Historic event but the narration was slow and plodding and drifted into areas I didn’t need to know about. There are better books on this event. I would highly recommend "Midnight in Chernobyl" By: Adam Higginbotham.

10 people found this helpful

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More about the how Chernobyl affected USSR

I buy this book expecting to learn more about the tragedy and the causes of it. I realize in life, it is hard to paint one particular cause as the main entity to any accident be it an ever lasting nuclear or a small fender bender on the road. But, the book spends 1 chapter going over the 'design flaws' of RBMK reactors and before you know it, you are in the middle of the action with firefighters trying to stop a fire that they have no experience with and plant operators trying to figure out what went wrong. But, even after 14 hrs of the content, you are not sure what exactly went wrong except that it is a 'design flaw'. I know this is not a peer reviewed nuclear reactor study and layman might not be interested in jargon but the purchasers of this book are indeed interested in some science and discussing history, politics(AT THE EXPENSE OF THE ACTUAL CAUSE OF THE DISASTER) in a technological disaster book is just false advertising.

12 people found this helpful

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Technical details more interesting than politics

The beginning was great...quite riveting. It had significantly more background than the HBO show. However, the second half, about subsequent political movements and backlash, was much less interesting to me.

5 people found this helpful

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this is more of a political then scientific histor

This is more of a political than scientific history of Chernobyl. it does a good job of showing how the Chernobyl disaster help to lead to the dissolution of the USSR.

9 people found this helpful

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Drags toward the end but overall an excellent book

Fascinating story. Rated elsewhere as the most historically accurate and in depth. Great narrator. characters are little hard to keep track of towards the end but definitely worth the purchase

4 people found this helpful

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Fascinating Details About Soviet Disaster

Serhii Piokhy has written a detailed historical account of the events and circumstances leading to the disaster as well as the struggle to contain it. Also offers interesting views on wider implications of this event in the collapse of the Soviet Union. A great read for anyone interested in contemporary history.

4 people found this helpful

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  • 03-26-19

Great book & narrator, minor editing problems

great details in the book about the incident that I hadn't really understood. the author gave numerous perspectives and covered the economic, political and environmental fallout off the accident. 2/3 the way through minor cutting off of some sentences. other than that book was great!

3 people found this helpful