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Ablaze: The Story of the Heroes and Victims of Chernobyl Hardcover – April 19, 1993


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (April 19, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679408193
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679408192
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Read's taut, riveting probe of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant explosion and its aftermath reveals the full magnitude of the disaster as perhaps no other book has done. The English journalist ( Alive ) spent months in Russia, Byelorussia and Ukraine in 1991 interviewing scores of survivors, officials and scientists. Focusing on the human side of the catastrophe, he gives a blow-by-blow account of the accident, complete with reconstructed dialogue, then explores the Soviet cover-up and Western experts' efforts to estimate the effects of a disaster that may ultimately claim more victims than WW II, suggests Read. Instead of acknowledging reactor design flaws and poor safeguards, Soviet officials brought scapegoats to trial, in what Read likens to Stalin's show trials. Drawing on interviews and on newly declassified Soviet medical records, he assesses the plight of residents in the far-flung contaminated zone and discloses that most of the 600,000 cleanup and rescue personnel suffered severe damage to their immune systems. Photos. 50,000 first printing.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The Chernobyl disaster gets the James Michener treatment from Alive author Read, who characterizes all the main participants in the tragedy and grippingly shows the mix of ineptitude and heroism with which the Soviets responded to it. More detailed than earlier Western accounts, more readable than any Soviet account (including Grigori Medvedev's The Truth About Chernobyl , LJ 6/15/90, and his recent No Breathing Room: The Aftermath of Chernobyl , LJ 4/1/93), Read shows how human error (which the Russians acknowledged) and a faulty reactor design (which they tried to conceal) led to dozens of deaths and widespread contamination, but it's the Soviet system that emerges here as the key villain in the story. For all informed readers. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/92.
- Robert Decker, Palo Alto, Cal.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Cowhig on August 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover
If you enjoy true documentary type history and politics, well written, and especially if you are one of the thousands who enjoyed this author's "Alive" - about the survivors of an airplane crash - then you will devour "Ablaze". Mind you, among the page-turning excitement there is also a lot of breathtaking incompetence and cover-up. You'll remember: the Chernobyl reactor blew up, the Soviets covered up, Europe was contaminated, thousands of Soviet citizens were (and still are) made tragically ill. This book gives a journalistic factual account of the emergency and all its aftermath. The physics is well explained for the non-scientist. Worth ordering!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John G. Hilliard on April 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book covers the Chernobyl nuclear reactor melt down that took place back in the early 80's in the USSR. The first third of the book covers what happened to cause the accident - an amazingly small human error for such a major problem. The next third of the book covers the fighting of the fires, evacuation of the town and the closure of that part of the facility. The last third of the book covers the political fallout for the incident.
Overall he details are very interesting and the author has done a very good job in pulling all the facts together. You really can tell that this is a very well researched book. The writing is not bad and the book follows a well-constructed path. My only complaint would be that the last third of the book tends to drag a little due to the in depth coverage of the political aspects, due to it being USSR it is not always the most interesting for an American. All in all, this is a good book that does a great job in describing the accident and the clean up. The one thing you will take away from the book is that it is a wonder that this type of incident has not happened again.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James Higgins on February 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
`Ablaze' (1993) is a good overview of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of April 26, 1986. The book is designed for the general reader; those looking for more in-depth technical content may want to instead turn to Zhores Medvedev's `The Legacy of Chernobyl' (1992), or Grigori Medvedev's `The Truth About Chernobyl' (1991).

Piers Paul Reid is an experienced author of both fiction and non fiction (`Alive', about the Andes plane crash survivors, is probably his best -known work), and his writing is, on the whole, clear and easy to follow. Reid is conscious of the fact that an audience of English-speaking readers will probably not be unduly familiar with the spelling of Slavic names, so he provides a listing of the main characters at the beginning of the book; this is most helpful, since there is a large cast of characters in `Ablaze'.

The book's inside front and back covers provide insightful diagrams of reactor No. 4, and the Chernobyl installation as a whole; these are very helpful in parsing out the events of the accident. The book also contains useful maps of the region around Chernobyl, and a nice section of b & w photographs.

`Ablaze' starts with a fast-moving but informative history of the Soviet nuclear weapons and nuclear power industries. It is interesting to learn that the RBMK reactor design (which was used to construct the power plants at Chernobyl) is in fact a scaled - up version of the reactors used to provide material for Soviet nuclear weapons. This design choice was imposed by the inability of the Soviet's metallurgical industry to manufacture the pressurized-water reactors used in the West.

The book then moves into a gripping narrative of the disaster.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent book written about not only the aftermath of the Chernobyl reactor #4 explosion, but the author goes into much detail about what led up to the decision to design and build this flawed reactor complex to begin with. The stories of the heroes who gave up their lives to save others as well as the horrible treatment and extreme indifference shown by the Russian gov't officials towards the suffering masses in the aftermath are largely brought to light in this book. An excellent read in my opinion for those wanting more than merely stories from "official" sources...!
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Format: Hardcover
The stories of heroism were amazing. The insight into human nature during such a horrible situation were heart touching. The chronicle of the men and woman who risked so much during this event is a real testimony to humanity. This book is also a great read. It's easy to read, and it's a page turner. I had a hard time putting it down.
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