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Meeting ID: 867 2994 0136
This question and answer session with the author will be moderated by Christopher Korenowsky, the Director of Public Services for the Somerset County Library System.
In 2006—the twentieth anniversary of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl—Adam Higginbotham, then a reporter on assignment, traveled to Russia and Ukraine, searching for surviving witnesses to the accident. He discovered that the version of events widely accepted in the West was incomplete, often incorrect, and colored by misinformation and propaganda. The real story, he found, was more complex, human, and terrifying than the myth.
Based on research conducted over the course of more than ten years, Higginbotham’s "Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster" provides the first complete account of the catastrophe that encircled the world, and helped precipitate the fall of the Soviet Union. Higginbotham draws upon recently declassified documents, letters, unpublished memoirs and material from the archives of the Chernobyl Museum in Kiev, as well as scores of original interviews with participants in the events of 1986. These include former Soviet ministers, state investigators, KGB officers, pilots, and soldiers, as well as the scientists, nuclear engineers, plant workers, and ordinary citizens whose lives were changed forever. Many of these have never before spoken to a Western journalist. The result is the definitive account that breaks through the propaganda, secrecy, and myth to reveal the truth about one of the twentieth century’s greatest disasters.
Higginbotham’s exhaustive reporting allows the reader to experience the incident through the eyes of those who lived it, from the ambitious young station director who first envisioned the power station in a snow-covered field in rural Ukraine, to the control room engineers who unwittingly prompted its destruction; from the city officials and government ministers who oversaw the mass evacuation and cleanup, to the ordinary citizens who struggled through it all to keep their families safe. It is a story of heroics and incompetence, hubris and ingenuity, institutional weakness and human resilience.
Higginbotham also positions Chernobyl as a key event in the destruction of the Soviet Union, and the U.S. victory in the Cold War. For Moscow, it was a political and financial catastrophe as much as an environmental and scientific one. With an estimated final cost of 18 billion rubles—at the time equivalent to $18 billion—Chernobyl further strained the teetering Soviet economy and revealed to its population a state built upon a pillar of lies.
Winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction.
A New York Times Best Book of the Year.
A Time Best Book of the Year.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year.
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