Martin's Must Reads: 'Midnight at Chernobyl'

Feb 4, 2020

“Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering history’s worst nuclear accident. In the more than thirty years since then, Chernobyl has become lodged in the collective nightmares of the world.”

I’m Mark Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" with a quote from the dust cover of the book Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster” by Adam Higginbotham.

This story of Chernobyl is a mix of science and history. The author explains nuclear power, its inherent dangers and blessings but also its radioactive by-products. The Chernobyl disaster begins long before April of 1986 with the Soviet system hiding problems with nuclear power generation not only from their people and the world but from the very people within the Soviet Union charged with running the reactors safely. He shares details that show the disaster was not only a failure of the equipment and the operators but the Soviet system itself.

The very men who were responsible for the safe operation of the reactor were those, who after the explosion, failed to comprehend the magnitude of the unfolding nightmare. Even amid such a disaster the author tells of some incredible heroics by individuals, military units and organizations. Heroics that prevented Chernobyl from being a much worse disaster.

Adam Higginbotham in Midnight in Chernobyl explains the lasting effects of the disaster, “Almost twenty-five years after the explosion of Reactor Number Four, in February 2011 the thirty-kilometer Exclusion Zone surrounding the power station remained deeply contaminated.” If anything positive can be learned from the Chernobyl disaster it is the death of the myth of safe nuclear power.