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Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a…

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster (1997)

by Svetlana Alexievich

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (33)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Astonishing and alarming things are in this book, eg did you know that many, many highly radioactive things - from fur coats to heavy machinery - were smuggled out of the Chernobyl zone? Then there are appalling accounts of the soldiers sent to clean up the reactor with no real protective gear, knowing they would likely die but doing it anyway. And the regular people who lived around the reactor the day it blew and were abruptly forced to leave their homes and lives behind forever.

There are so many shocking, maddening, devastating stories packed into this little book. It’s not an easy read but what people went through, what happened in Chernobyl, needs to be known and remembered. ( )
  EnidaV | Sep 18, 2018 |
This book will morally destroy you. It shows the cruel reality of the survivors of Chernobyl, there stories how they are trying to adjust to their new "life" and the consequences of a catastrophe that still nobody had paid the price, nobody besides the innocents. The narration is great the author knows how to put you from one story to the other and it shows that after all life for the survivors is just the hours that they count before they died, is a must read if we want to understand what was the real side of the story ( )
  CaroPi | Aug 9, 2018 |
Heavy. Some first-hand accounts were more compelling, more engrossing than others. As a work of journalism, it is objective because it represents a wide and balanced account of the disaster, clean-up and aftermath. It's truly the first dystopian nonfiction I've ever read. I think Margaret Atwood drew inspiration from the setting for the Madd Adam books. Cormac McCarthy, The Road. Parts of this book should be read with those novels, but only in very small doses--too much will kill you. ( )
  MsKathleen | Jan 29, 2018 |
"It's changed our everyday life and our thinking"
By sally tarbox on 29 January 2018
Format: Hardcover
In short chapters, Alexievich creates a sort of collage of narratives about the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Wives of volunteers; the men who undertook the work after the nuclear tragedy; old people, disbelieving of 'radiation', resentful at attempts to evacuate them; scientists, party officials, schoolchildren... even refugees from wars in other republics who chose to settle here, where land was plentiful and up for grabs, and the potential long-term consequences seemed trifling when compared to the bloodshed they had witnessed.

Immensely powerful, horrifying work, from the terrible deaths and deformities to the criminal lack-of-preparedness and lies by the authorities, as workers are sent out without any equipment, while those in power deliberately minimize any hazards. And the way poverty and misinformation cause a cavalier attitude to the risk, so that contaminated foods are still eaten regardless.

Many compared the emergency action with the war - evacuation, hospitals, soldiers, explosion. For some the War with its immediacy was far worse than this invisible menace. But others feel differently:
"People talk about the war, the war generation, they compare us to them. But those people were happy! They won the war! It gave them a very strong life-impulse, as we say now, it gave them a really strong motivation to survive and keep going. They weren't afraid of anything, they wanted to live, learn , have kids. Whereas us? We're afraid of everything. We're afraid for our children, and for our grandchildren, who don't exist yet...It's a feeling of doom."

Gives a powerful understanding of the situation in Belarus. ( )
1 vote starbox | Jan 28, 2018 |
An expert curation of recorded monologues from the survivors of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The stories of each individual build up to a powerful and tragic image of the accident and its aftermath, with an overall effect probably more powerful and complete than any history could be. Russian heroism, fatalism, black humour, corruption, servility to the State all come to light. The accident released the equivalent of 350 nuclear bombs into the area and it has affected generations of survivors. They are like the survivors of a nuclear war: their attitude is different and their land itself is irrevocably changed. A moving set of human stories, of humans faced with a situation unlike any other. ( )
  questbird | Nov 10, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Svetlana Alexievichprimary authorall editionscalculated
Björkegren, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gessen, KeithTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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We are air: we are not earth

Merab Mamardashvili
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(Prologue) I don't know what I should talk about -about death or about love?
Don't write about the wonders of Soviet heroism. They existed—and they really were wonders. But first there had to be incompetence, negligence, and only after those did you get wonders: covering the embrasure, throwing yourself in front of a machine gun. But that those orders should never have been, that there shouldn't have been any need, no one writes about that. They flung us there, like sand onto the reactor. Every day they'd put out a new "Action Update": "men are working courageously and selflessly," "we will survive and triumph."

They gave me a medal and one thousand rubles.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
"Le 26 avril 1986, à 1 h 23, une série d'expolsions détruisit le réacteur et le bâtiment de la quatrième tranche de la centrale nucléaire de Tchernobyl; Cet accident est devenu la plus grande catastrophe technologique du XXème siècle".
The devastating history of the Chernobyl disaster by Svetlana Alexievich, the winner of the Nobel prize in literature 2015

- A new translation by Anna Gunin and Arch Tait based on the updated and expanded text -

On 26 April 1986, at 1.23am, a series of explosions shook the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Flames lit up the sky and radiation escaped to contaminate the land and poison the people for years to come. While officials tried to hush up the accident, Svetlana Alexievich spent years collecting testimonies from survivors - clean-up workers, residents, firefighters, resettlers, widows, orphans - crafting their voices into a haunting oral history of fear, anger and uncertainty, but also dark humour and love. A chronicle of the past and a warning for our nuclear future, Chernobyl Prayer shows what it is like to bear witness, and remember in a world that wants you to forget. [Amazon.co.uk]
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312425848, Paperback)

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history occurred in Chernobyl and contaminated as much as three quarters of Europe. Voices from Chernobyl is the first book to present personal accounts of the tragedy. Journalist Svetlana Alexievich interviewed hundreds of people affected by the meltdown---from innocent citizens to firefighters to those called in to clean up the disaster---and their stories reveal the fear, anger, and uncertainty with which they still live. Comprised of interviews in monologue form, Voices from Chernobyl is a crucially important work, unforgettable in its emotional power and honesty.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:37 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Voices From Chernobyl is the first book to present personal accounts of what happened on April 26, 1986, when the worst nuclear reactor accident in history contaminated as much as three quarters of Europe. Svetlana Alexievich--a journalist who now suffers from an immune deficiency developed while researching this book--interviewed hundreds of people affected by the meltdown. Their narratives form a crucial document revealing how the government masked the event with deception and denial. Harrowing and unforgettable, Voices From Chernobyl bears witness to a tragedy and its aftermath in a book that is as unforgettable as it is essential.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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