Midnight in Chernobyl

Midnight in Chernobyl Summary

A New York Times Best Book of the Year
A Time Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year
2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence Winner
One of NPR’s Best Books of 2019

Journalist Adam Higginbotham’s definitive, years-in-the-making account of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster—and a powerful investigation into how propaganda, secrecy, and myth have obscured the true story of one of the twentieth century’s greatest disasters.

Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering history’s worst nuclear disaster. In the thirty years since then, Chernobyl has become lodged in the collective nightmares of the world: shorthand for the spectral horrors of radiation poisoning, for a dangerous technology slipping its leash, for ecological fragility, and for what can happen when a dishonest and careless state endangers its citizens and the entire world. But the real story of the accident, clouded from the beginning by secrecy, propaganda, and misinformation, has long remained in dispute.

Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews conducted over the course of more than ten years, as well as letters, unpublished memoirs, and documents from recently-declassified archives, Adam Higginbotham has written a harrowing and compelling narrative which brings the disaster to life through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed it firsthand. The result is a masterful nonfiction thriller, and the definitive account of an event that changed history: a story that is more complex, more human, and more terrifying than the Soviet myth.

Midnight in Chernobylis an indelible portrait of one of the great disasters of the twentieth century, of human resilience and ingenuity, and the lessons learned when mankind seeks to bend the natural world to his will—lessons which, in the face of climate change and other threats, remain not just vital but necessary.

Book Reviews


Midnight in Chernobyl5 star

This is a very good book on the events leading up to and after the disaster.55

Maxwell Rock

Amazing Read5 star

Incredible book delivering a nearly minute by minute account of the events that occurred during the Chernobyl meltdowns—yet it’s one of the fastest-paced books I can recall reading. Really enjoyed it and a little sad it’s over.55

Billy in Vermont

Excellent5 star

Thorough and complete historical narrative of the disaster. Worth reading. Page turner.55


Stellar!5 star

Simply stellar! I was completely engrossed from the beginning to end! I highly recommend this book!55

Critic 1954

Fantastic Book5 star

Very detailed perspective of what really happened at Chernobyl. A chilling read.55


Fascinating4 star

This account of the Chernobyl nuclear accident reads like a novel. It is gripping from start to finish45


Suspenseful and Enlightening — A Great Read!5 star

As soon as I finished this book, I couldn't wait to go back and re-read parts of it. This is a totally engaging read. I see that some reviewers found it too technical; I didn't think that was the case at all, and I don't even have a science background. In fact, I was inspired to dig into Wikipedia and learn more about nuclear reactors, isotopes, radioactivity ... you name it. This is one of the best non-fiction works I've read in a good while. You won't want to put it down!55

Other Books by Adam Higginbotham




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