Publisher's Summary

At 01:23:40 on April 26th 1986, Alexander Akimov pressed the emergency shutdown button at Chernobyl's fourth nuclear reactor. It was an act that forced the permanent evacuation of a city, killed thousands, and crippled the Soviet Union. The event spawned decades of conflicting, exaggerated, and inaccurate stories.
This book, the result of five years of research, presents an accessible but comprehensive account of what really happened - from the desperate fight to prevent a burning reactor core from irradiating eastern Europe, to the self-sacrifice of the heroic men who entered fields of radiation so strong that machines wouldn't work, to the surprising truth about the legendary "Chernobyl diver", all the way through to the USSR's final show-trial. The historical narrative is interwoven with a story of the author's own spontaneous journey to Ukraine's still-abandoned city of Pripyat and the wider Chernobyl Zone.
©2016 Andrew Leatherbarrow (P)2016 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Ms Discus on 12-10-2016

Outstanding Listen and Read

I thoroughly enjoyed this title and would highly recommend to anyone who wants a better understanding of the actual events of the Chernobyl Power Station as they happened told in a well researched very accessible way. I was fascinated by the book and in fact also ended up getting the ebook which makes the research citations easier to follow.

The author is a very experienced urban explorer and his account of traveling to and photographing Pripyat was both entertaining and informative. Leatherbarrow does not claim to be a scientist or that this is a scientific overview of events but it is very well documented and allows those of us who have an interest in this area without a science background to gain a better understanding of the event.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Christopher on 17-10-2016

Lost in his own navel

What disappointed you about Chernobyl 01:23:40?

There is a great and tragic story to be told here. Pieces of it shine through, but they are tangled in a bewilderingly banal narrative of self that utterly distracts from the story.

What does Michael Page bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Michael Page valiantly struggled with shoddy material; I have no fault with his performance.

What character would you cut from Chernobyl 01:23:40?

The Author!

Any additional comments?

There is a grand tradition of using one's personal interaction with historical events as a lens for understanding the story and significance of those events. For an example of how this can be done in a way that enhances the story, see Norman Maclean's "Young Men and Fire," the story of the Mann Gulch fire that killed a smoke jumper team, as well as Norman Maclean's personal effort to come to understand that story. Maclean manages to weave these narrative threads into something greater than either would have been on their own.
I think this is what Andrew Leatherbarrow sought to do, weaving the story of the Chernobyl disaster together with the story of how he came to be on a tour of the site, and how that affected him. Sadly, Leatherbarrow's personal narrative is self-indulgent, boring, and really does not touch on the events of April 26, 1986. Instead, we are treated to a series of regretful chapters about not being able to compose camera shots, being rude to Ukrainian workers, and pedestrian descriptions of what must have been a haunting panorama. We learn more about Leatherbarrow's angst than about Chernobyl.
The chapters where he deals with the accident itself are incisive, interesting and filled with the sense of how inevitable some tragedy was. These are well enough written to rescue my rating from a one star. But, it is telling that, having fallen asleep for the last half an hour of the book, I did not feel the need to go back and listen again.
Save your credits, this one's not a good buy.

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20 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Chanatron78 on 11-08-2017

Interesting story

Interesting story but I had to check that it wasn't being narrated by Apple's Siri.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Rob on 26-11-2016

Interesting content but terrible delivery

Any additional comments?

If you are interested in Chernobyl then this is certainly an interesting listen, but for me it was really spoiled by the terrible narration which I found really annoying, especially as the guy couldn't really pronounce Chernobyl! Repeatedly hearing cheer-knob-eel becomes pretty frustrating in the end.The description of the guys visit to the exclusion zone struck a chord with me as it turns out he visited just months after I was there myself the first time round, and its interesting to hear his take on things.It also brings together some interesting information and facts from other sources, but as the author states many books on the Chernobyl disaster contain the odd 'fact' which is not 100% accurate, I think this is also true of this book too, but it does not detract from what I found to be an otherwise good book.

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7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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