On May 8, 2019, the Ukrainian Institute of America presented a special book talk and signing by The New York Times bestselling author Adam Higginbotham “Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster.”
The book is journalist Adam Higginbotham’s definitive, years-in-the-making account of the Chornobyl 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.
This event was spearheaded and organized by the Ukrainian Institute of America member Andrew Horodysky.
Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number Four of the Chornobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering history’s worst nuclear disaster. In the thirty years since then, Chornobyl 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Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews conducted over the course of more than ten years, as well as letters, unpublished memoirs, and documents from recently-declassified archives, Adam Higginbotham has written a harrowing and compelling narrative which brings the disaster to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 Chernobyl is 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.
About Adam Higginbotham
Journalist Adam Higginbotham writes for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Wired, GQ, and Smithsonian. He lives in New York City.
What others say about Midnight in Chernobyl
“Adam Higginbotham’s brilliantly well-written Midnight in Chernobyl draws on new sources and original research to illuminate the true story of one of history’s greatest technological failures—and, along with it, the bewildering reality of everyday life during the final years of the Soviet Union.” — Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gulag: A History and Red Famine: Stalin’s War On Ukraine
“Midnight in Chernobyl is top-notch historical narrative: a tense, fast-paced, engrossing, and revelatory product of more than a decade of research … A stunningly detailed account … For all its wealth of information, the work never becomes overwhelming or difficult to follow. Higginbotham humanizes the tale, maintaining a focus on the people involved and the choices, both heroic and not, they made in unimaginable circumstances. This is an essential human tale with global consequences.” — Booklist, Starred Review
“The most complete and compelling history yet written in English of the worst nuclear power plant meltdown in history.” — The Christian Science Monitor
“Superb, enthralling and necessarily terrifying … the accident unfurls with a horrible inevitability. Weaving together the experiences of those who were there that night, Higginbotham marshals the details so meticulously that every step feels spring-loaded with tension … Amid so much rich reporting and scrupulous analysis, some major themes emerge … Higginbotham’s extraordinary book is another advance in the long struggle to fill in some of the gaps, bringing much of what was hidden into the light.” — Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times
Midnight in Chernobyl was available for purchase at The Ukrainian Institute on the evening of the book talk.
Adam Higginbotham. Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster
Published: Simon & Schuster, New York (February 12th, 2019).