• Chernobyl

  • The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe
  • By: Serhii Plokhy
  • Narrated by: Ralph Lister
  • Length: 14 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (1,943 ratings)

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Chernobyl

By: Serhii Plokhy
Narrated by: Ralph Lister
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Publisher's summary

Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction winner, 2018

A Chernobyl survivor and the New York Times bestselling author of The Gates of Europe "mercilessly chronicles the absurdities of the Soviet system" in this "vividly empathetic" account of the worst nuclear accident in history (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.

©2018 Serhii Plokhy (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

"A masterful account of how the USSR's bureaucratic dysfunction, censorship, and impossible economic targets produced the disaster and hindered the response."—New York Review of Books

"Gripping, meticulously researched...[Mr. Plokhy] mercilessly chronicles the absurdities of the Soviet system and the arrogance of its apparatchiks. But the fact that he grew up fewer than 500 kilometers south of Chernobyl probably accounts for his vividly empathetic descriptions of the people on the ground—the plant managers and employees, the firefighters, soldiers and others—who risked their lives to contain the damage."—Wall Street Journal

"The bare outline of the Chernobyl fire and the Soviet silence have been well covered...Mr. Plokhy, who directs the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard, adds much detail to the...construction that caused the failure, and the false assignment of blame to operating engineers...[His] most telling disclosures deal with how the Soviet subterfuges played a major role in Ukraine's decision to become an independent nation once the Soviet Union disintegrated."—Washington Times