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The Truth About Chernobyl Hardcover – 31 Dec 1991

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 31 Dec 1991
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 252 pages
  • Publisher: I.B.Tauris; First British Edition edition (31 Dec. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1850433313
  • ISBN-13: 978-1850433316
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.8 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,512,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Medvedev gives a detailed and insightful account of the events of the 26th April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and it's surrounding area. He explains clearly some of the reasons why the accident happened, in terms of both the immediate operation of the reactor prior to the explosion and the political and psychological anticedents to the accident which go back some years. He relates, first-hand, the experiences of many people who were there at the time, giving his work an immediacy and a reality which is both shocking and deeply absorbing to read. The courage of the fire-fighters and the operational staff who gave their lives to save colleagues and prevent the accident from becoming far, far worse shines through his work.

When I bought this book I though it would be heavy going but interesting. I have found, however, that it has been completely 'unputdownable'. The writing itself is lucid, clear and sometimes impassioned. I am left with a detailed understanding of what went on over in Chernobyl that night and the following days and a strong impression of both the floored system for running power plants under the Soviet regime and the tremendous courage, strength and optimism of many of the people themselves.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an engineer I was expecting that this book, which is written by an engineer, would be factual and objective. This book fails to deliver though on several fronts:
-The author often gives very subjective accounts of the actions of others. I'm not interested in these, I'd like some facts.
-A book giving an account of a major plant failure should describe this plant in some detail and use some diagrams. There is not a single diagram in this book. Someone not intimately familiar with the design of RBMK reactors will have a tough time understanding what actually was going on.
-The author uses a bewildering number of different units for dose (rates) and does not explain at all how all these different units relate. Very poor, coming from an engineer especially.
-The author repeats himself quite a lot throughout the book.
I cannot recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Very well-written, or indeed translated, this book not only gives a truly fascinating, absorbing in-depth account of the Chernobyl disaster, but also educates the reader in the methods, politics and history of nuclear power of the time and the events that led to the disaster, and exacerbated its effects.

The only reason I have not given it 5/5 is that I found parts of the book a little too technical, and had to educate myself in the function of nuclear reactors to fully understand.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Everybody should read this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x927c587c) out of 5 stars 24 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x916f454c) out of 5 stars A Tragic Detective Story 12 Dec. 1997
By Leon Keylin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As the book claims- a minute by minute account of the great tragedy. Being a fan of nuclear psysics this book has taught me a lot not only about physics but of the Russian culture, secretive cover-ups and human suffering. If you want to know everything there is about this Chernobyl and not be bored, then this is the book to get.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x916f45a0) out of 5 stars Excellent second book to read about Chernobyl 5 May 2006
By Cathy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent account of the accident. Besides being personally knowlegable, the author quotes NUMEROUS eye-witnesses to the disaster. He goes minute-by-minute (sometimes second-by-second) with virtually all the individuals who were present during the accident, and the politicians who, before and during the accident, made things worse.

However, in order to fully appreciate this book, some prior knowlege is needed. For example, terms like roentgens (a measure of radiation exposure) were never explained in laymen's terms - although even a layman can understand that, as the author points out, an instrument whose scale only goes up to 3.6 roentgens is inadequate to measure radiation in the range of 20,000 roentgens! Thus, most of the most important facts are fairly easy to deduce from context, although a glossery of nuclear terms would have been helpful.

Because the author has such a detailed knowlege of the subject, his account can occasionally loose the forest for the trees. For this reason, I say that it is an EXCELLENT second book to read about the disaster. If you already know the outlines of the events and have had the major terms defined for you (the "forest") by some other book, you cannot find a better book to explore every "tree" in detail. You don't need a physics doctorate, just some basic background.

But, even without any prior knowlege - my situation - the author's writing style is excellent. He captures the drama and the heroism with crackling intensity. He jumps from person to person, all around the plant, but he keeps the context, so the reader can see all these diffenerent groups and individuals working desperately in lethal conditions. And his pacing is excellent. Every person's experiences are described in detail, yet no one's account is sacrificed for anyone else's.

In conclusion, go get some basic background first, then READ THIS BOOK.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91993f00) out of 5 stars Very good article, most informative 20 Mar. 2005
By G. Cummins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read this in 1988 or 1989--well before it was published in the old Soviet Union, likely even an early draft. The copy I read nearly 20 years ago was smuggled out of the Soviet bloc, and circulated around the US nuclear industry, where I used to work. I have since misplaced my originals in moves, and plan to buy this book this week.

The paper brings you to great awareness, and lets you understand what really went on before-hand, as well as the containment of the accident. The paper lists the radiation units in Sieverts, so you have to do some conversions to be able to understand/relate to western standards, exactly what the levels of exposure were. Very harrowing, and makes you have tremendous respect for those who died to secure the reactor site.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x916f4828) out of 5 stars Amazing picture of a world disaster 18 Dec. 1997
By omill@ewu.edu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As a native Russian, I want to thank the author, Grigory Medvedev, for a honest and professional overview of Chernobyl disaster. His incredibly deep insight of human characters who were in touch with Chernobyl fire filled my heart with a great sorrow because they paid a high price of their health or lives. The book made me reevaluate my vision of our 20th century where still exists a nuclear power. Who will be the next victim of whose deadly mistake? Who must step in to shield others? What kind goverment promoted Chernobyl?
This book is essential for anybody to read in order to help all nations in organization of a prevention mechanism against such deadly mistakes.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x916f49d8) out of 5 stars Good, but it could have been great. 1 Dec. 2008
By M. Weaver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book has fantastic first person accounts of the Chernobyl disaster by people who watched it happen, and was written by a man intimately familiar with the power plant, the people involved and the response to the disaster. It gives great insight into the personalities that shaped the events leading up to the disaster, and opens the door to places and events we would otherwise be ignorant of. What this book doesn't have is a solid narrative, illustrations to assist with descriptions of the plant and it's environs or good explanations of the technical aspects of nuclear power - even when an understanding of such matters would be crucial to comprehend what he is describing.
Mr. Medvedev did a great job in creating this account but it possibly should have been modified for consumption by those of us without a deep understanding of Soviet political and scientific personalities of the late 1980's. Also, it often reads as though it was translated from Russian rather than into English - a better translation would do wonders.
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