Kate Brown is interested in the aftermath of Chernobyl, not the disaster itself. Her heroes are not first responders but brave citizen-scientists, independent-minded doctors and health officials, journalists, and activists who fought doggedly to uncover the truth about the long-term damage caused by Chernobyl. Her villains include not only the lying, negligent Soviet authorities, but also the Western governments and international agencies that, in her account, have worked for decades to downplay or actually conceal the human and ecological cost of nuclear war, nuclear tests, and nuclear accidents ... asks a larger question about how humans will coexist with the ever-increasing quantities of toxins and pollutants that we introduce into our air, water, and soil. Brown’s careful mapping of the path isotopes take is highly relevant to other industrial toxins, and to plastic waste.
Somberly fascinating ... Brown sifts through archives, conducts extensive interviews, and creates a damning portrait not only of callous Soviet bureaucracy but also of the shocking complicity of international regulatory bodies like the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency in muting the full horror of the disaster’s aftermath. Worst of all on some levels, much of this conspiring seems to have been motivated by a very mundane fear of legal retribution ... The obvious implications here are terrifying, particularly given the 21st century rise of authoritarian political movements in most of the world’s nuclear powers. After reading her book, Kate Brown’s phrase 'a Chernobyl Guide to the Future' takes on many new and increasingly ominous undertones.
Why don’t we know more?' That is the haunting question at the heart of Brown’s searing account of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which occurred in August 1986 ... In her exhaustive account of the tragedy, Brown profiles people who responded immediately to the accident and residents who were left behind in the contaminated zones while also exploring the environmental consequences. An important endeavor as this nuclear debacle recedes further into history.