By Piers Paul Read

On twenty sixth April 1986 the nuclear reactor of the fourth unit of the V.I. Lenin power-station at Chernobyl exploded. It was once a disaster of ancient proportions - many hundreds of thousands suffered, and endured to undergo, from the results. To chronicle this catastrophe and its aftermath, Piers Paul learn interviewed the engineers and operators who have been engaging in the fateful attempt at the evening of twenty fifth April; he talked to the director of the power-station, serving a ten-year sentence for negligence; and he went to the hitherto top-secret institutes as soon as run by way of Beria's Ministry for Medium laptop construction - the Kurchatov Institute, Moscow's clinic No 6, and the once-closed urban of Obninsk. during this account, learn takes benefit of the declassification of nuclear details within the former Soviet Union and the loosening of tongues that the failure of the coup in 1991. He additionally won entry to the trial transcripts, the protocol of the hitherto mystery clinical fee, and different exclusive reviews. the result's not just the tale of the disaster, but additionally a parable approximately totalitarianism and its cave in.

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Extra resources for Ablaze: Story of Chernobyl

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His extraordinary capacity for hard work, for taking risks, for understanding and solving the problems that arose in the course of their research made Legasov the natural leader of his group. The position held by his father in the Central Committee gave him a confidence no ordinary Soviet scientist could afford: he would take risks in his research, and also mock the pomposity of the most eminent party leaders who visited the Kurchatov. He was a wonderful raconteur, and because of his access to foreign books and journals, which he would sometimes lend to his colleagues at the Kurchatov, he had a breadth of culture far greater than that of the general product of the Soviet educational system.

Kurchatov died in the knowledge that his work was largely done. Not only was the Soviet Union armed with nuclear weapons, but it was committed to the development of nuclear power. From the small group of young scientists whom he had gathered around him in 1943, there had grown an enormous empire. His institute in Moscow employed ten thousand people; Obninsk was a city of one hundred thousand. Now not just the old institutions, like Ioffe’s Physical Technical Institute in Leningrad or the Roentgen Institute in Kiev, but every major university and technical college had its department of nuclear physics.

Finally, Chernobyl: Insight from the Inside by Vladimir Chernousenko, a Ukrainian scientist who took a prominent part in dealing with the consequences of the accident, reflects the anxieties found in his country today. For the political background that is so important in reaching a proper understanding of the story, I am indebted to The Great Terror by Robert Conquest; Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy by Dimitri Volkogonov; Gorbachev: The Path to Power by Christian Schmidt-Häuer; The New Russians by Hedrick Smith; and Inside the Soviet Writers’ Union by John and Carol Garrard.

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