After watching the HBO series about the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine during the Soviet Union, I wanted to read more about the tragedy. Readers of my blog know, I’m an avid reader. While there is a place for television, books, especially if done right, tell a more accurate picture of history. In Chernobyl, Serhii Plokhy tells a compelling story about what happened at Chernobyl and frames it through the lens of the collapsing Soviet Union.
Plokhy’s premise is that Chernobyl highlighted the serious problems with Soviet-style communism and ultimately played a leading role in the demise of the Soviet Union. While I found Plokhy’s arguments credible, I believe the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse with or without Chernobyl. Still, Plokhy’s work was detailed, interesting, and well worth a read.
As when I watched the television series on Chernobyl, reading Plokhy’s work made me wonder how anyone can still argue in support of nuclear power. Sure, nuclear power burns clean. But it only takes one disaster, like Chernobyl, to make area’s of land forever uninhabitable. A nuclear disaster larger than Chernobyl could literally destroy the world. Also, there is the issue of the nuclear waste. It’s so toxic that no one knows how it should be effectively stored for the thousands of years it remains dangerous.
If you liked the HBO series, and/or you want to learn more about the Chernobyl disaster, Plokhy’s book will be worth your time.