The Truth About Chernobyl Hardcover – 31 Dec 1991
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
-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.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
This book is essential for anybody to read in order to help all nations in organization of a prevention mechanism against such deadly mistakes.
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.