This is a gripping and enthralling read: a wild ride through a nuclear disaster and the desperate attempts of the men and women who tried to prevent it becoming something far worse. Higginbotham has a great turn of phrase, a grip on the material - but most of all, a sense that this a real story about real people. If you go into this seeing it as a story of nuclear physics and the failure of the Soviet Union, you’ll come out realizing that’s only part of the story. The men who fought the fires after the first explosion, the woman mayor who tried to save her town, the families who watched loved ones suffer from radiation sickness - this is about life and death. The story also tells us something about how politicians and officials struggled to manage - even deny - the truth, but the scale of the disaster escaped them. It’s a great read.