[[ read online books ]] Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster (English Edition) Author Adam Higginbotham – Andy-palmer.co.uk

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster (English Edition) This book is the best docu drama book I have ever read It is so readable I kept thinking I must put it down and get to sleep and suddenly it is 3 am I highly recommend it. Insofar as the facts surrounding the catastrophe are known for as the author says, even today not all are , Adam Higginbotham has made immense efforts to assemble them into a highly readable account What struck me even was the degree to which the then Soviet bureaucracy and government covered up the accident, failed to accept responsibility for fundamental design failings, ignored warnings from respected scientists and operators over a long period, apportioned blame conveniently , disregarded the safety of its own citizens and of the world in generaland a host of other things Contrary to what Dr Barry Clayton says in his review here, I can assure you that the book is NOT full of unnecessary detail it is the small details and the human factors that make it readable Were they not there, the book would be a very dry account Don t be put off by the rather melodramatic title it is a thoroughly recommended read. This is a wonderful book It covers the causes and effects of the Chernobyl catastrophe, and the event sequence of its occurrence, better than any popular work has yet done I do have one gripe about the technical presentation below , but the book overall is so outstanding that I m giving the five stars anyway, and never mind the logical inconsistency.The main aspects of the story of the Chernobyl nuclear explosion and meltdown are the history of the USSR nuclear industry the society and environment within which the civilian electricity generation arm of the industry operated the technical aspects of the disaster itself the enormous Soviet recovery effort the medical, health and environmental effects and the long term consequences and aftermath No author can be a specialist at them all, but Mr Higginbotham nevertheless handles than all with equal facility, thoroughness and clarity It s a tour de force.One of my other reviews is of Chernobyl History of a Tragedy by the Ukrainian writer Serhii Plokhy It s good but is simply outshone by Midnight Mr Higginbotham s work is superior in its technical exposition of the disaster in its use of numbers and radiation metrics in its description of the immediate Soviet response on the construction of the sarcophagus on what happened inside the entombed reactor in subsequent years and, critically, in its assessment and identification of the underlying causes In an unsentimental way, Midnight also expresses compassion for the victims as well as the poignancy of the consequences affecting individuals Lastly, and in contrast to Mr Plokhy, Midnight seems to me to remain at all times politically disinterested and impartial.For identification of underlying cause as opposed to the immediate technical triggers of the accident I can do no better than quote from page 347 the origins of the Chernobyl disaster lay in a combination of scientific, technological, socioeconomic, and human factors unique to the USSR The Soviet nuclear industry, lacking even rudimentary safety practices, had relied upon its operators to behave with robotic precision night after night, despite constant pressure to beat deadlines and exceed the plan that made disregard for the letter of the regulations almost inevitable Case rests.The gripe Yes Mr Higginbotham s technical account of how fission reactors operate pp35 38 doesn t maintain a continuous logical thread Reading and re reading didn t clarify for me the inherent design flaw of the Soviet RBMK reactor One sentence on p38 threw me and left me guessing In reactors that use water as both coolant and moderator, as the volume of steam increases, fewer neutrons are slowed, so reactivity falls This seems counterintuitive surely, if fewer neutrons are slowed, reactivity would tend not to fall Explanation came from a high school physics text that I paraphrase and summarise thus Natural uranium comes in two isotopes Uranium238 99.3% and Uranium235 0.7%.Fission is caused by neutrons striking uranium atoms.Fast neutrons are caused by fission of U235 atoms.Fast neutrons striking U238 do not cause fission.Fast neutrons striking U235 cause negligible fission.Slow neutrons are only slightly absorbed by U238, and cause negligible fission Slow neutrons striking U235 cause fission.For U235 fission to happen such that a self sustaining chain reaction may occur, there needs to be sufficient mass of U235 at least 2 3% enriched in the total U238 U235 mass of uranium.Then, a good neutron moderator water or graphite is needed to slow down enough fast neutrons to sustain a chain reaction in U235.If the moderator is water most Western reactors , and if the water boils and turns to steam, steam is far less effective as moderator than water, fewer neutrons are slowed and the continuing U235 reaction stops spontaneously.If the moderator is graphite Chernobyl RBMK and if surrounding coolant water boils and turns to steam, neutron moderation by the graphite is unchanged the chain reaction continues but the neutron absorbtion function of the coolant water reduces.Moderation by the graphite as a consequence increases reactivity increases heat increases coolant water turns to steam and the escalation expressed as the positive void continues.The unchecked result is fire in the graphite.To control and reduce moderation by the graphite, the control rods must be inserted in the graphite core, and they must work.A layman s sequencing, perhaps, which I am sure experts will fault But it is logically joined up and is superior to the explanations given by either Messrs Higginbotham or Plokhy.Gripe allowed for, Midnight in Chernobyl is a fabulous book that I recommend unreservedly. I have read a lot of books and technical reports on this appalling disaster.This books adds little that is new.It contains a number of technical inaccuracies which make me wonder if the author actually understood what happened that day The truth about Chernobyl by Grigory Medvedev and Atomic accidents by James Mahaffey are both accurate,the first giving a full account and the second a brief overview. I can remember the disaster unfolding whilst at school and seemingly thinking at the time why we were only just hearing about it 3 days after it happened The book answers this and many other subsequent questions and I cannot possibly imagine the amount of time and effort that went into the research for this book let alone the terrible consequences to those who so bravely and blindingly fought to contain the disaster whilst the politics tried to cover it up Fascinating, frightening and wonderful in equal measure This is possibly the scariest book I have ever read, and makes any zombie horror film pale into insignificance.A series of avoidable problems at least they would have been if not for the curious mirror world of Soviet politics meant that a hastily designed, badly built and poorly maintained nuclear reactor or to you and me a horrific world threatening disaster waiting to happen had it s predictable explosive melt down.Because the Soviet system could not admit that their technology was not the world leading miracle that their government proclaimed they couldn t tell anyone that a huge and deadly poisonous cloud of god knows what was heading out of Chernobyl and about to cross into Europe.And so for several weeks, whilst they fumbled about trying to fix it which mostly meant sending untrained and unprotected men to try and cover the deadly nuclear core with a variety of things some of which only made it worse , the world was unaware of the imminent radioactive menace bearing down on them.Read this and be VERY VERY afraid.Some of my family with young children at that moment in time were living in one of the places in the UK most affected by the radio active fallout It is curious and unproven but three out of four of them including my young niece all ended up with cancer of some form It is the best account about the accident and its aftermath that I have ever read With the evidence that has emerged following the Three Mile Island and the Chernobyl incidents it is criminal for any government to build any nuclear power stations The book should be given the widest possible publicity by all opposition parties throughout the world, if there is only a whisper of a government in power contemplating going down that road to a potential environmental and human disaster. I was 13 in 1986, when Reactor 4 in the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded I remember it being on the news, but at the time we didn t really know how bad it was And how close we came to continent wide devastation.In 2019, I watched the phenomenal HBO Chernobyl miniseries After that, I read Voices from Chernobyl an oral history from the people affected So going into this chunky book, I knew a bit.But this has been an incredible read It goes back to the start of the Russian nuclear programme, and provides a richer, fuller story of what happened what happened inside the reactor itself, what happened inside the Institutes and the Party What happened to the evacuees What happened to the Soviet Union.It s comprehensive, fascinating and terrifying As we seek to tackle climate change, nuclear is clearly going to be a growing part of the story for all us But this is a salutary reminder of the care we need to take. This is a very good book on the Chernobyl disaster It reads like an overall introduction, as includes the technical, historic, geographical, medical, legal and other aspects of the facts before, during and after the sinister April day of 1986.Of those aspects cited above I would say the best told are those historic from the selection of the exact location, the construction and the events in the USSR before the nuclear accident The author is very good detailing the decadency of the USSR, perennially plagued with corruption, disdain alcoholism and worse, and how this decadency not only helped but provoked Chernobyl it is like a story foretold.To these eyes the book slows when going through technical and medical fields, perhaps it is necessary to have an above than average knowledge of these fields to fully understand Chernobyl.But, to repeat, a very good introduction to a key moment in world history that in most parts reads like an international thriller. A New York Times Best Book of the Year A Time Best Book of the Year A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the YearAndrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence Winner One of NPRs Best Books ofJournalist Adam Higginbothams definitive, years in the making account of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disasterand a powerful investigation into how propaganda, secrecy, and myth have obscured the true story of one of the twentieth centurys greatest disastersEarly in the morning of April Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering historys worst nuclear disaster In the thirty 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 its citizens and the entire world 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 than ten 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 complex, human, and terrifying than the Soviet myth Midnight in Chernobyl is an indelible portrait of one of the great disasters of the twentieth century, of human resilience and ingenuity, and the lessons learned when mankind seeks to bend the natural world to his willlessons which, in the face of climate change and other threats, remain not just vital but necessary

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