At 01:23:40 on April 26th 1986, Alexander Akimov pressed the emergency shutdown button at Chernobyl's fourth nuclear reactor. It was an act that forced the permanent evacuation of a city, killed thousands, and crippled the Soviet Union. The event spawned decades of conflicting, exaggerated, and inaccurate stories.
This book, the result of five years of research, presents an accessible but comprehensive account of what really happened - from the desperate fight to prevent a burning reactor core from irradiating eastern Europe, to the self-sacrifice of the heroic men who entered fields of radiation so strong that machines wouldn't work, to the surprising truth about the legendary "Chernobyl diver", all the way through to the USSR's final show-trial. The historical narrative is interwoven with a story of the author's own spontaneous journey to Ukraine's still-abandoned city of Pripyat and the wider Chernobyl Zone.
©2016 Andrew Leatherbarrow (P)2016 Tantor
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"Outstanding Listen and Read"
I thoroughly enjoyed this title and would highly recommend to anyone who wants a better understanding of the actual events of the Chernobyl Power Station as they happened told in a well researched very accessible way. I was fascinated by the book and in fact also ended up getting the ebook which makes the research citations easier to follow.
The author is a very experienced urban explorer and his account of traveling to and photographing Pripyat was both entertaining and informative. Leatherbarrow does not claim to be a scientist or that this is a scientific overview of events but it is very well documented and allows those of us who have an interest in this area without a science background to gain a better understanding of the event.
"Lost in his own navel"
There is a great and tragic story to be told here. Pieces of it shine through, but they are tangled in a bewilderingly banal narrative of self that utterly distracts from the story.
Michael Page valiantly struggled with shoddy material; I have no fault with his performance.
There is a grand tradition of using one's personal interaction with historical events as a lens for understanding the story and significance of those events. For an example of how this can be done in a way that enhances the story, see Norman Maclean's "Young Men and Fire," the story of the Mann Gulch fire that killed a smoke jumper team, as well as Norman Maclean's personal effort to come to understand that story. Maclean manages to weave these narrative threads into something greater than either would have been on their own.
I think this is what Andrew Leatherbarrow sought to do, weaving the story of the Chernobyl disaster together with the story of how he came to be on a tour of the site, and how that affected him. Sadly, Leatherbarrow's personal narrative is self-indulgent, boring, and really does not touch on the events of April 26, 1986. Instead, we are treated to a series of regretful chapters about not being able to compose camera shots, being rude to Ukrainian workers, and pedestrian descriptions of what must have been a haunting panorama. We learn more about Leatherbarrow's angst than about Chernobyl.
The chapters where he deals with the accident itself are incisive, interesting and filled with the sense of how inevitable some tragedy was. These are well enough written to rescue my rating from a one star. But, it is telling that, having fallen asleep for the last half an hour of the book, I did not feel the need to go back and listen again.
Save your credits, this one's not a good buy.
"Maybe better as a physical copy"
I enjoyed the parts of this book that were about the actual events of Chernobyl. Very informative and interesting, but it doubles almost as a travelogue that I would probably have appreciated more with a tangible book. When the chapters switch from the past historical information over to the present-day author's journey, it frustrated me from a listening perspective. Definitely worth a read, but only worth half a listen. Good narration.
This guy likes to hear himself talk.
I wanted info on Chernobyl. I did not feel like a cheap rendition of a travel itinerary sprinkled with some facts.
"A Tale of Two Stories"
No. Leatherbarrow does a fantastic job of telling the amazing story from lead-up to aftermath, but he insists on putting in his own story of travelling to Chernobyl as well. That's not a problem, in and of itself, but he puts in a full chapter of his story between each chapter of history. I don't mind that his story is there(it IS quite interesting), but it should have been one or two chapters at most-- maybe as an epilogue. I actually DID listen to it twice, but the second time through I skipped all the modern-day chapters and enjoyed it much more.
It's hard to say "favorite", seeing this book being about a huge tragedy, but hearing about the oversights and shortcuts that led up to the disaster was fascinating. He does a fantastic job explaining complicated science in an easy to understand way.
I cannot say enough about how well Leatherbarrow condenses down the science into understandable explanations. He makes a fantastic teacher of nuclear physics, so don't skip this book just because you don't know your neutron moderators from your Roentgens. It's worth a listen... Just feel free to skip the modern-day travelogue if it gets tiresome. It's worth it just for the rest of the story.
"A GREAT READ
Most of the information in this book is unknown to most Americans making it full of great surprises for mechanical type of guy's and a must listen to power plant personnel.
This book is very well written and gives you firsthand stories about Andrew's travels to Chernobyl as well as a very detailed walk-through based on accounts of those involved. The book I've always wanted about Chernobyl.
"Interesting book on a disaster we know little about"
this disaster has always interested me and was glad to find this book. Very easy to listen to but with lots of details that the less technical can understand.
Narrator did a good job as well. highly recommend.
"Personal & informative"
I was 14 years old when the event happened. It scared me and intrigued me. I didn't understand any of the science behind it. Andrews desires to explore and comprehend the event mirror my own and after this book, I understand it more & wish I had the capacity to visit the area as he did. I would likely be as emotional. it's sad though how the USSR treated their people. ignoring information, shifting blame, divulging partial truths. All countries should learn something from this if only for the sake of humanity and the longevity of the planet we call home.
"Good book ..."
The author does a good job of making something that is very complex understandable ..... the storyline keeps you interested by moving from the disaster to a trip he took to the site.
"Interesting content but terrible delivery"
If you are interested in Chernobyl then this is certainly an interesting listen, but for me it was really spoiled by the terrible narration which I found really annoying, especially as the guy couldn't really pronounce Chernobyl! Repeatedly hearing cheer-knob-eel becomes pretty frustrating in the end.The description of the guys visit to the exclusion zone struck a chord with me as it turns out he visited just months after I was there myself the first time round, and its interesting to hear his take on things.It also brings together some interesting information and facts from other sources, but as the author states many books on the Chernobyl disaster contain the odd 'fact' which is not 100% accurate, I think this is also true of this book too, but it does not detract from what I found to be an otherwise good book.
"Very interesting and well read"
I don't know what some people are on about when they review these books and go on about the person reading it rather than the book.
I am glad I ignored all those folks, this book is very interesting and the delivery is excellent.
a great story written by a guy who has done a lot of research.
A better narrator would have helped
No. He can tell a tale but he's not a writer
Very disappointing. I was looking for a more scientific exploration of the event.
I appreciate the author,s explanation for the manner in which the book is written but its a bit tedious and dull.
"Dull and tedious"
Pitched as a factual account of what happened. Sparsely pepped with facts and padded with so much junk that the timeline and facts are lost in the tedium.
for his first book it's great, well written and thought out. enjoyed every chapter. interesting facts and story's that have been researched well. The author is also objective and non-biased.
recommend to anyone interested in this disaster or any atomic one and even man made
"a good book"
enjoyable lision well wrote learned a lot there not many books on this subject a good book
"Great book with a great audible description ."
i really enjoyed this audiblle book of such a tragic accident ..Well explained on how the accident happened .
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