A chorus of fatalism, stoic bravery and black, black humor is sounded in this haunting oral history of the 1986 nuclear reactor catastrophe in what is now northeastern Ukraine. Russian journalist Alexievich records a wide array of voices: a woman who clings to her irradiated, dying husband though nurses warn her "that's not a person anymore, that's a nuclear reactor"; a hunter dispatched to evacuated villages to exterminate the household pets; soldiers sent in to clean up the mess, bitter at the callous, incompetent Soviet authorities who "flung us there, like sand on the reactor," but accepting their lot as a test of manhood; an idealistic nuclear engineer whose faith in communism is shattered. And there are the local peasants who take this latest in a long line of disasters in stride, filtering back to their homes to harvest their contaminated potatoes, shrugging that if they survived the Germans, they'll survive radiation. Alexievich shapes these testimonies into novelistic "monologues" that convey a vivid portrait of late-Communist malaise, in which bullying party bosses, paranoid propaganda and chaotic mobilizations are resisted with bleak sarcasm ("It wasn't milk, it was a radioactive byproduct"), mournful philosophizing ("[t]he mechanism of evil will work under conditions of apocalypse") and lots of vodka. The result is an indelible X-ray of the Russian soul.
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*Starred Review* "Chernobyl is like the war of all wars. There's nowhere to hide." On April 26, 1986, the people of Belarus lost everything when a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station exploded. Many people died outright, and many were evacuated, forced to leave behind everything from pets to family photographs. Millions of acres remain contaminated, and thousands of people continue to be afflicted with diseases caused by radiation as 20 tons of nuclear fuel sit in a reactor shielded by a leaking sarcophagus known as the Cover. For three years, journalist Alexievich spoke with scores of survivors--the widow of a first responder, an on-the-scene cameraman, teachers, doctors, farmers, Party bureaucrats, a historian, scientists, evacuees, resettlers, grandmothers, mothers--and she now presents their shocking accounts of life in a poisoned world. And what quintessentially human stories these are, as each distinct voice expresses anger, fear, ignorance, stoicism, valor, compassion, and love. Alexievich put her own health at risk to gather these invaluable frontline testimonies, which she has transmuted into a haunting and essential work of literature that one can only hope documents a never-to-be-repeated catastrophe. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This is a great book. You will learn things that doesn't make any news in the US. Highly RecommendPublished 1 month ago by Charles
I found it really interesting to be able to read the personal stories of a variety of people who were affected by Chernobyl.Published 2 months ago by Taylor
Terrifying first-hand accounts of the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster.Published 3 months ago by Kevin Hakes
If you want to learn the truth about what went on before, during and after and currently (as of date of printing) at Chernobyl this book is for you. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Steve of NorCal
This book gives a more precise view of what happened than any technical report I've read. It gives you the numbers--well, 'they' do. The Chernobylites. Oh, the Chernobylites. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Christina M. Ward
Great book. It's just a collection of interviews, although it gives a great look at life during and after the people living around the reactor and that part of the country.Published 5 months ago by Andrew
Never before have I read a book that moved me so completely as this one. I have been fascinated by Chernobyl for a few years now, having only been a child when it happened. Read morePublished 6 months ago by C. Park
Through a series of beautifully crafted monologues by journalist Svetlana Alexievich, a candidate for the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature, she gives a voice to the voiceless by... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Christian Engler