Serhii Plokhy

Chernobyl Roulette

Chernobyl Roulette

A War Story

Summary

On 24 February 2022, the first day of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, armoured vehicles approached the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine. It was the most direct way for them to reach the capital - and an extraordinarily reckless plan after the disaster that had taken place there three decades earlier. Russian occupation of the plant had begun. It would last thirty-five days.

Closely reported and narrated from multiple perspectives, this is the story of the Ukrainians who were held hostage and worked shifts for weeks instead of days to spare the world a new nuclear accident. We meet Valentyn Heiko, the foreman who had also been there for the clean-up of the Chernobyl accident in 1986 and turned sixty during the occupation; plant workers who found a way to celebrate International Women’s Day despite all odds; Russian officers who had no knowledge of nuclear reactors; and four stalkers who were caught in the middle and stood in for the overworked cook.

Gripping and unforgettable, Chernobyl Roulette sounds the alarm about the dangers of nuclear sites in an unprecedented time, when plant workers are left to fight on their own while the world holds its breath. In a book that reads like a thriller, Serhii Plokhy tells a remarkable story about human nature, uncertainty and courage.

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