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An Enthralling and Terrifying History of the Nuclear Meltdown at Chernobyl

 By Jennifer Szala,Feb. 6, 2019The word “Chernobyl” has long been synonymous with the catastrophic reactor explosion of 1986 — grim shorthand for what still qualifies, more than three decades later, as the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

As infamous as it is now, it’s easy to forget that the calamity seemed to drift to international attention as if by accident. A full two days after the meltdown began in Ukraine, with winds carrying radioactive fallout into Europe, alarms went off at a nuclear power station in faraway Sweden. Only then did Soviet officials deign to release a terse statement acknowledging “an accident has taken place,” while studiously neglecting to mention the specifics of what had happened or when.

Aid is being given to those affected,” the statement concluded. “A government commission has been set up.”

In his chilling new book, “Midnight in Chernobyl,” the journalist Adam Higginbotham shows how an almost fanatical compulsion for secrecy among the Soviet Union’s governing elite was part of what made the accident not just cataclysmic but so likely in the first  place. Interviewing eyewitnesses and consulting declassified archives — an official record that was frustratingly meager when it came to certain details and, Higginbotham says, couldn’t always be trusted — he reconstructs the disaster from the ground up, recounting the prelude to it as well as its aftermath. The result is superb, enthralling and necessarily terrifying………https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/06/books/review-midnight-chernobyl-adam-higginbotham.html

 

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February 7, 2019 - Posted by | resources - print

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