If you’re like me, you probably feel like you have a pretty good understanding of what happened when the Chernobyl nuclear power plant blew up in 1986. But Adam Higginbotham’s beautifully written and detailed account of the disaster and its aftermath is both an enjoyable read (give or take the nuclear disaster ruining half of Europe part) and a revelation when it comes to the specifics.

It’s also fairly terrifying in that it certainly doesn’t leave you with the impression that there could never be a similar accident in Russia or Ukraine – where Chernobyl is – or elsewhere around the world. Interestingly though, it ultimately argues that the world should still consider nuclear power as the lesser of evils compared to coal and other energy sources.

My advice is to read it before you watch the HBO series Chernobyl since they cover similar ground. And if you’re into all things Chernobyl and want a quicker fix, this article by Linton Besser and team at the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent unit is a cracker as well. It has great animations showing just how far radioactive pollution spread from Chernobyl and how the world is still living with the impact of the disaster.

Midnight in Chernobyl was published by Simon & Schuster in 2019.

By Grant Butler

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