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  • Midnight in Chernobyl

  • The Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster
  • By: Adam Higginbotham
  • Narrated by: Jacques Roy
  • Length: 13 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Military
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (147 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham.

The dramatic untold story of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, based on original reporting and new archival research.

Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering history’s worst nuclear disaster. In the 30 years since then, Chernobyl has become lodged in the collective nightmares of the world: shorthand for the spectral horrors of radiation poisoning, for a dangerous technology slipping its leash, for ecological fragility, and for what can happen when a dishonest and careless state endangers not only its own citizens but all of humanity. But the real story of the accident, clouded from the beginning by secrecy, propaganda and misinformation, has long remained in dispute.

Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews conducted over the course of more than 10 years, as well as letters, unpublished memoirs and documents from recently declassified archives, Adam Higginbotham has written a harrowing and compelling narrative which brings the disaster to life through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed it firsthand. The result is a masterful nonfiction thriller and the definitive account of an event that changed history: a story that is more complex, more human and more terrifying than the Soviet myth.

Midnight in Chernobyl is an indelible portrait of one of the great disasters of the 20th century, of human resilience and ingenuity and the lessons learned when mankind seeks to bend the natural world to his will - lessons which, in the face of climate change and other threats - remain not just vital but necessary.

©2019 Adam Higginbotham (P)2019 Random House Audiobooks

What listeners say about Midnight in Chernobyl

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Brilliant

Brilliant, scary, real. Couldn’t stop listening to it. Crazy to think this happened. So well presented.

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Best book I've listened too. Very interesting.

This book is awesome, highly recommend. I have always wanted to know more about Chernobyl. I'm also way more interested in Nuclear Technology now.

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  • Ian
  • 13-04-2020

Great Read/listen

A through insight into one of the worlds greatest ECO disasters - well written and with great previous insights

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  • Vik
  • 22-03-2020

Amazing book with factual details

This book contains more factual details rather than the drama that comes with the TV series.
The author has done a great job giving the details regarding Pripyat and Chernobyl plant itself. Great listen.

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Enlightening

A well researched book. Excellent detail. Harrowing at times, but fills in a multitude of gaps on people, personalities and politics.

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a shocking disaster, meticulously retold

I was 9 years old when the disaster happened, and still vividly recall the fear with which we learned about the nuclear fallout over our part of Europe. to heat the exact course of the accident, the causes of it, and the actions of so many hundreds of thousands afterwards was hugely educational, shocking, and also very sad. this is some of the best investigative pieces I've read in my entire life, I hugely recommend this one. Especially if you feel that nuclear energy is a viable alternative to our demand for more energy.

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Fascinating. Great when paired with the HBO show

Fantastic. Brilliantly researched. Provides a rich backstory to the now well known parts of the Chernobyl incident.

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Excellent

The best non fiction historical account I’ve ever read. A fantastic achievement and well recommended.

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Highly Recommend

I, like everybody else, have been entranced by HBO's Chernobyl. Watching it, I realised how little I really knew about the disaster despite having spent untold hours wandering around in the fictional version of the Zone in the STALKER games.

Much like most people I imagine, I was kind of astounded by how huge a disaster it actually was, and how close it came to being so much worse. I kind of ran under the assumption that the HBO show was dramatised to a certain extent, because how could I have possibly not heard that there was a distinct possibility that Reactor 4 would explode again with the force of several atomic bombs? - but no, this actually occurred.

Higginbotham's writing is detached, which somehow makes it all the more impactful - dry descriptions of Pripyat firefighters experiencing 'violent diarrhea' in the days following the initial explosion, which was determined to be 'their intestines liquefying' is one example I'm going to have trouble forgetting.

As a companion to the show, Midnight in Chernobyl was excellent. I didn't plan it out that way, but events in the show as I watched it every few nights kind of lined up to the events in the book as I listened to it on my way to and from work, expanding and providing further detail, or refuting the more dramatised parts of the show. Legasov for example is portrayed a lot more heroic in the show, routinely martyring himself before the Communist Party for the good of all - whereas he was far more likely to toe the Party line in real life, and only repented soon before his death.

Midnight in Chernobyl is a fantastic in-depth exploration of the disaster - causes and repercussions, and it has certainly sparked interest in the topic for myself. An excellently written book, very well read by Jacques Roy. Highly recommend.

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Very detailed

I can’t imagine the amount of time and work that went into this. It’s a very detailed retelling of the events leading up to and long after the disaster. It examines many angles and goes into incredible detail. Some of the information of nuclear fission in an rbmk reactor at the beginning is a little dry but if you can get past that it’s very interesting.

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  • Ross
  • 17-03-2019

Well researched and well written

A terrific narration ..and the topic was covered without recourse to ideology or persuasion. makes me want to visit the site

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  • Mackenzie
  • 24-12-2019

Non-stop anti-USSR propaganda

10 per cent fact, 90 per cent fiction how this became a NY Times best book mystifies me. I could not get to the reactor blowing before abandoning this ridiculous account of a major nuclear accident. Much detail (fiction) on the corruption and governing style of the Soviets; sparse verified fact.

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  • Jamie Cowan
  • 09-04-2019

Amazing!

I visited Chernobyl in November 2017 having put around ten years of work into researching the disaster, though after visiting, I felt I'd learnt everything I could and it felt like the end of the road.

With the new HBO series due for release, my interest was suddenly revamped, and I checked for books on Chernobyl and this one popped up.
I feel like I've learned so much more from this book as it puts more of a personal turn on things, and even had a few shocking moments when they mention where someones flat was and I thought "Oh my god, I remember walking by that exact one!"

The first while might be a bit dry of you're only interested in the thrill of the disaster as it covers the history of nuclear power and the Soviet nuclear power programme, but I 100% encourage you to muscle through it as this book is easily one of, if not actually the best I've read!

8 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 19-02-2019

Great explanation of events

Brilliant book slightly dodgy pronunciation of some words such as bitumen and collate that gets more annoying each time you hear it.

4 people found this helpful

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  • lisasarcy
  • 19-05-2019

Makes the subject accessible

I’m not a science person, so any book that can cover a lot of scientific ground pretty much from start to finish without losing me is a winner.

This is a well presented look at the background, the history, the politics, the science, and the people involved.

It covers the stories of various individuals, managing to make you care, but never overstepping the line into being sentimental or sensational about deaths.

The narration is very good. A little fast, given the amount of unfamiliar names and the science involved, but still very clear and well performed.

This is the only book on the subject I’ve read, so I really don’t know how accurate it is. But if you are looking for a good overview of the story rather than a definitive work, then I can absolutely recommend it.

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  • C. D. Turner
  • 22-06-2019

Great book

Great on technical detail, and the Human stories behind this disaster. Well balanced, both in the failings of the Soviet System, its Nuclear program, and the risks of Nuclear power.

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  • Mr. A. Gillis
  • 14-06-2019

Required Reading

If you're interested in watching the new Chernobyl TV programme, watch this first.
Excellent writing and difficult concepts underpinning nuclear power described well without being patronising.

1 person found this helpful

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  • rakieta
  • 28-07-2021

It's's very interesting story & it's well written.

It's's very interesting story and it's well written.
Great book when you need perspective on .. it can be always worst.

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  • Garrett Devitt
  • 27-07-2021

A little slow to start but an amazing book!

Fascinating, hard to stop listening to. As much a look at the Soviet Union and it's people as Chernobyl.

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  • craig
  • 20-07-2021

it was ok.

think i got a little bored with this. i am sure it is full of accurate detail, and the significance of the event leads to a certain gravitas, but i think i was expecting more of a thrill story...maybe i need to listen again

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  • A. Murphy
  • 17-07-2021

Fantastic, atmospheric reading of a traffic story

A story told in factual detail, following many of the people who were there at the time, telling their story, pre-, during and post- disaster.

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  • adam barfoot
  • 06-07-2021

Good listen

loads of info and really interesting, if you want to know in detail about this event then get this

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