On the night of December 3, 1984, a cyanide cloud drifted over the streets of Bhopal, India, set loose by a leak in a nearby chemical plant. When the deadly fog lifted untold numbers of the city's residents--perhaps as many as 30,000, by some accounts--lay dead, while half a million others were injured. Dominique Lapierre, a French journalist and longtime champion of India's poor, joins with Spanish writer Javier Moro to recount the terrors of that night, about which the whole truth may never be known. The deaths are but one part of the authors' long, sometimes elaborate tale, which relates how the industrial conglomerate Union Carbide had come to build its vast chemical complex at Bhopal, one meant to be a glory of technology and, ironically, to save thousands of lives brought low by insect-wrought starvation. There are few villains but many heroes in the authors' account, which explores the margins at which good intentions conflict with the profit motive, at which cost-cutting omissions yield horrifically unintended consequences. It all makes for a thoughtful and disturbing book. --Gregory McNamee
As with Lapierre's City of Hope, this latest project, co-written with Spanish travel writer and journalist Moro (The Jaipur Foot), is part historical documentation and part dramatization, a modern fable depicting the communities that weathered the effects of early globalization in India. After DDT was banned in 1973, American chemical giant Union Carbide began to push Sevin, a pesticide that calls for highly toxic and unstable ingredients in its production. They built a processing plant in Bhopal, India, where a combination of poor supervision and penny-pinching tactics eventually led to the world's worst industrial disaster: on December 3, 1984, the plant sprung a leak during routine maintenance procedures. The resulting noxious vapors killed between 16,000 and 30,000 and left 500,000 permanently injured. As Lapierre and Moro recount the disaster, they weave in the story of a family of peasants forced to leave their farmland and move to the Bhopal region, where their fate intersected tragically with that of the plant. The moral of the story is familiar (what's good for Union Carbide is not so good for the world), but it still packs a bitterly ironic punch. With their canned dialogue and patronizing tone, the close-ups of Indian life are not as effective as the authors' straightforward history of the accident. Nevertheless, the inherent drama of the story keeps the pages turning, and its lessons make the book well worth picking up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
I have always wanted to read about this incident to find why it was such a big disaster and is still considered so. Read morePublished 3 months ago by SudeshR
The book had some pages torn out. It was not complete. I they were from the front of the book and I do not think I missed anything, but still I did expect to get a complete in... Read morePublished 16 months ago by John R. Kennedy
It was an unfortunate event, but it's not of great historical importance for a general reader, any way he is a wonderful writer.Published on June 14, 2013 by DAVID SALVADOR HANANIA
Of all ways to die in a disaster, gas is one of the most terrifying. It is generally invisible, yet burns or drowns victims in their own fluids when encountered. Read morePublished on February 26, 2010 by Severin Olson
A story so engaging, so well written, so provocative, so terrifying, that all high school civics teachers, science teachers, and college professors should make it required reading.Published on May 17, 2009 by Swan
On 3rd Dec 1984, over 30,000 people of Bhopal died through cyanide poisoning from the nearby Union Carbide plant. More than 500,000 were seriously injured. Read morePublished on November 11, 2007 by Paul Dsouza
A great and interesting read .. Beautiful coverage and master story tellingPublished on July 15, 2004 by Bobby Soni
When a cruise missile destroys a target, there is a certain level of responsibility on Raytheon, the manufacturer. Read morePublished on June 13, 2004 by "needstobuyabike"