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The Legacy of Chernobyl [Paperback]

Zhores Medvedev
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 17, 1992 0393308146 978-0393308143

"A damning history of the Chernobyl affair, from its origins in the plant's primitive design and careless management to the economic and political crisis the accident precipitated." —Clenn Garelik, New York Times Book Review

On the morning of April 26, 1986, a Soviet nuclear plant at Chernobyl (near Kiev) exploded, pouring radioactivity into the environment and setting off the worst disaster in the history of nuclear energy. Now a former Soviet scientist gives a comprehensive account of the catastrophe.

Frequently Bought Together

The Legacy of Chernobyl + Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster + Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Chernobyl reactor disaster in April 1986 forced the permanent evacuation of some 100,000 people; more than half a million citizens in the Soviet Union and surrounding countries were showered with dangerous levels of radiation. Soviet biologist Medvedev forcefully argues that consumption of contaminated agricultural products, rather than the immediate fallout, will cause most of the health problems associated with this catastrophe, including a marked increase in cancer. He disputes the official version of the accident, which placed emphasis on human negligence while minimizing the reactor design flaws, which are pinpointed here. There were several previous nuclear accidents in the U.S.S.R.; the secrecy surrounding them was a major contributory factor in the runaway chain reaction at Chernobyl, Medvedev charges. The most comprehensive and revealing account of Chernobyl to date, this report gauges the political impact of the inflationary energy crisis precipitated by the 1986 meltdown.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Noted scientist Medvedev makes the most comprehensive examination to date of the April 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power accident in the Soviet Union, also the subject of Robert Gale's Final Warning ( LJ 5/15/88) and Iurii Scherbak's Chernobyl: A Documentary Story ( LJ 8/89). Medvedev presents new information in a number of technical areas and addresses environmental, agricultural, technological, public health, and political repercussions of the accident. He also provides a history of accidents in the Soviet Union, and discusses the future of nuclear power in the Soviet Union and around the world. In a particularly interesting segment of the book, he argues that the Chernobyl catastrophe contributed to the implementation of perestroika. Despite its technical terminology, this book remains accessible to general readers and will be a valuable resource to those concerned with the future of nuclear power.
- Jennifer Scarlott, World Policy Inst., New York
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 378 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (February 17, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393308146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393308143
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book October 3, 2006
This book takes you right into the Chernobyl disaster. From the bungling government and perverse incentives placed on the nuclear engineer teams which made it a disaster just waiting to happen, to the clean up, evacuation (largely also botched) and health effects of the nuclear fallout.

It is amazingly detailed. The author even discusses wind patterns during the disaster which effected what areas were worst effected by what radioactive material (as the disaster progressed the wind AND the composition of the radioactive dust changed). I can honestly say that I was never really bored even though it gets technical in places.

The author's writing style actually makes a reader feel that they are there when the Reactor explodes... not to mention (for one example out of many)sharing frustration at the government's incompetence when they delay an evacuation for half a day thereby increasing the populations poisoning over ten-fold.

Highly Recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a must read for any serious student of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. It was written not long after the accident (1990) and so lacks information about the long-term health effects. However, the detail about the interactions of the participants, the top-down, Moscow directed policies that intentionally misled everyone including the operators, the comprehensive data about the immediate radioactive release, and the description of the sequence of events and decisions leading to the accident are both amazing and well researched. One of the most revealing aspects is that the radiation release, as bad as it was, could have actually been FAR WORSE. Cooling the basement with liquid nitrogen averted a complete meltdown into the water table. However, the author, as well as most reporters, doesn't display an understanding of the importance of xenon buildup that led to a positive-feedback nuclear excursion as the xenon burned out leaving a super-prompt-critical core.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CHERNOBYL: A ONE ACT PLAY January 3, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book was a fast read. I found the information fascinating, but the author suddenly was throwing numbers at me that I didn't quite understand.

My main reason for the purchase of this book was the info for a play. The info was clear and easy to understand, (except for the numbers I.E.

40 Ci/km and 2 just above the m, the equivalent of 1,500,000Bq/m with the number 2 above the m. I guess that means to the second power) Anyway I reccommend THE LEGACY OF CHERNOBYL BY Zhores Medvedev if anyone is interested in what happened at Chernobyl. This book helped me to write the one-act play "CHERNOBYL."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The hazards of nuclear energy February 9, 2014
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An interesting book. It explains clearly why this happened. The author then goes on to describe the consequences of the incident. Some of the chapters are a bit long and seem to repeat the same story over several times. I learned from this book but did skip some sections.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book started off very insightful giving us details about the Soviet Nuclear reactors and how they came to be. The book did a great job of sharing how the Soviet System itself built the foundation for the disaster that was Chernobyl. The Legacy of Chernobyl is a good book but again not a great book. One reviewer says you must be a nuclear engineer to enjoy the book. I actually found the engineering aspects of the book fantastic. Where I felt The Legacy of Chernobyl lost its mojo was when it started talking about the effects of the disaster on the eco-system. The Legacy of Chernobyl goes deep into the public health effects of the radiation and how its plume dispersed toxins all over the USSR and Europe.

When The Legacy of Chernobyl talks about the reactors it was fine. When The Legacy of Chernobyl talked of how the Soviet system failed to create the kinds of free fearless openess needed to take decisions early on that would have lessened this disaster. In its own way this book chronicles the heroic exploits of those firemen, control room operators and others who died making sure the reactor did not explode after falling into the water filled bubbling pool below.

The Legacy of Chernobyl is well worth its price for the awesome insights into "Soviet Culture & Technology" it shares mostly in the beginning to middle of the book. The saddest thing is for all its failings The Legacy of Chernobyl reveals the RBMK 1000 reactor was not entirely bad.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great read informative November 6, 2013
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Very informative without being too preachy. Nice to read more about the science. Was pleasantly surprised with this one. Wanted a book to fill in the blanks all the other books left in the story. This one did just that.
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24 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little too technical for me. April 10, 2001
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book hoping for a general introduction to the explosion, its causes and its aftermath. The book does contain such information, but it's buried underneath a heavy layer of technical detail that can be, at times, mind-numbingly boring. Unless you are a nuclear engineer or otherwise interested in the minutiae of the reactor's workings, I'd skip this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A thorough explanation and details of the causes and effects of the...
The events leading up to, through and following the events at Chernobyl are explained well from the point of view of someone who has seen the Soviet system from the inside and... Read more
Published 8 months ago by C. Raymer
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!!
Excellent book, not to be missed by the ones interested in the dangerous aspects of nuclear energy. When you finish reading this book you will be scared to death by the nuclear... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Fernando A. Grangé Levy
4.0 out of 5 stars Lengthy
I got this because I knew very little of Chernobyl. While I enjoy the book it is very scientific and had me skipping through parts. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Shelly K
5.0 out of 5 stars a book everyone should read
more than a book about horrific accident at chernobyl. explains nuclear energy 2 make electricity in general. Read more
Published on September 15, 2011 by Mark T. Chambers
5.0 out of 5 stars A well researched in depth view to the Chernobyl disaster
This book is very technical, very dry and full of figures - and this is a good thing. If you want a very insightful and in depth view to what happened in Chernobyl in 1986, the... Read more
Published on October 31, 2010 by Janos Honkonen
3.0 out of 5 stars Is there really No Breathing Room?
I thought this was a very good novel. I used this on several occations as a document for research papers I have wrote on the subject of Nuclear power and Chernobyl. Read more
Published on December 5, 2003 by "lister_girl2004"
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