Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future (Hardback)Kate Brown (author)
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'Remarkable... grips with the force of a thriller' - Robert MacFarlane
An astonishing expose of the aftermath of Chernobyl - and the plot to cover up the truth
The official death toll of the 1986 Chernobyl accident, 'the worst nuclear disaster in history', is only 54, and stories today commonly suggest that nature is thriving there. Yet award-winning historian Kate Brown uncovers a much more disturbing story, one in which radioactive isotopes caused hundreds of thousands of casualties, and the magnitude of this human and ecological catastrophe has been actively suppressed.
Based on a decade of archival and on-the-ground research, Manual for Survival is a gripping account of the consequences of nuclear radiation in the wake of Chernobyl - and the plot to cover it up. As Brown discovers, Soviet scientists, bureaucrats, and civilians documented staggering increases in cases of birth defects, child mortality, cancers and a multitude of life-altering diseases years after the disaster.
Worried that this evidence would blow the lid on the effects of massive radiation release from weapons-testing during the Cold War, scientists and diplomats from international organizations, including the UN, tried to bury or discredit it. Yet Brown also encounters many everyday heroes, often women, who fought to bring attention to the ballooning health catastrophe, and adapt to life in a post-nuclear landscape, where dangerously radioactive radioactive berries, distorted trees and birth defects still persist today.
An astonishing historical detective story, Manual for Survival makes clear the irreversible impact of nuclear energy on every living thing, not just from Chernobyl, but from eight decades of radiaoactive fallout from weapons development.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Number of pages: 432
Weight: 667 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 39 mm
'Brown's key question is why, considering the appalling nature of the catastrophe, we have not learned more lessons from it: Why, after Chernobyl, do societies carry on much as they did before Chernobyl?' - The Guardian
'Her aim is to make up for the gap in scholarship around the disaster, and to learn from it. 'Manual for Survival' is sometimes polemical, sometimes scientific; it also at times resembles a travel book. The facts she uncovers are devastating...' - The Guardian
'It is a troubling book, passionately written and deeply researched' - The Sunday Times
'An astonishing unconventional history.' - The Times
'Brown's page-turner skilfully weaves an original narrative on the long-term medical effects of the Chernobyl disaster... Her capacity to immerse herself and pick up on nuances brings these stories from factory workers, technicians, doctors and villagers alive.' - Nature
'Exemplary ... Brown is an indomitable researcher' - Luke Harding, The Observer
'Help[s] us comprehend, both emotionally and rationally, a disaster so great that future scholars will detect it thousands years from now, whether they have written accounts of it or not.' - The Evening Standard
'Manual For Survival is a remarkable book, distinguished by Kate Brown's rare combination of skills: formidable archival history, investigative research, and vivid storytelling. There are parts of this book that grip with the force of a thriller - but again and again, the plot is proved true. A decade's work has gone into uncovering the real human cost of Chernobyl. This is a book about even bigger subjects than the disaster at its core, however: about how politics processes disaster, about the unseen legacies of the 'friendly atom', and about the Anthropocene futures faced by the human species, surviving in an epoch of ruin.' - Robert Macfarlane
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Manual for Survival is an interesting, but deeply flawed and clearly biased history of the health and environmental impacts of Chernobyl, the worst technological disaster in human history. It would be all too easy to... More
“A fascinating look at what happened next”
Brown's book asks a lot of questions: how many people really died as a result of the Chernobyl accident? How many people are still living with dangerous levels of contamination? And how many people are likely to... More
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