Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe

by Serhii Plokhy

Basic Books, 2020

Serhii Plokhy’s Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe is a brilliant examination of both the scientific and political ramifications of the catastrophic explosion of the Chernobyl Unit 4 RBMK nuclear reactor. Plokhy delivers a comprehensive breakdown of the science of nuclear reaction, as well as the science and engineering behind the Soviet’s RBMK nuclear reactor, explaining both how it was meant to function, why it was used over other nuclear reactor options, and what caused Unit 4’s spirals into a nuclear disaster. While paying attention and giving great care and detail to the explanation of scientific information, Plokhy also dives deeply into not only the nuclear fallout but the political fallout as well. US and USSR relations are examined, as well as the internal state of the Soviet Union, the rifts and the conflicts that this crisis created, as well as how those in power went about finding solutions to solve them.

A truly gripping read, Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe is a must-read for anyone wanted a deeper and broader understanding of what happened on April 26th, 1986, and why it still matters today.

Video review on my YouTube channel: