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Midnight In Chernobyl


FRESH AIR: In the days following the 1986 explosion in the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, a military officer working to manage the response from an abandoned hotel nearby noticed a mysterious black carpet in the empty dining hall. When he got closer, he realized it was not a carpet; it was thousands of flies, alive but immobilized by the radiation in the air. That’s one of the details you’ll find in the book Midnight In Chernobyl by our guest, journalist Adam MidnightHigginbotham, who writes for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and other publications

The book has drawn new interest with the recent airing of a five-part HBO series about the disaster called “Chernobyl.” It was produced independent of Higginbotham’s research, and he believes it misrepresents some aspects of the story. Based on newly declassified documents and scores of interviews with participants, Higginbotham’s book offers a gripping account of the explosion and its causes, the frantic efforts to contain the damage, which exposed thousands of workers and soldiers to radiation, and the impact of the catastrophe on civilians. Large areas around the plant were so contaminated that whole villages had to be bulldozed and buried. MORE