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Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

by

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster Cover

ISBN13: 9780312425845
ISBN10: 0312425848
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

 
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.
Svetlana Alexievich was born in the Ukraine and studied journalism at the University of Minsk. She has received numerous awards for her writing, including a prize from the Swedish PEN Institute for "courage and dignity as a writer."

 

Keith Gessen is coeditor of n+1 magazine. He has written about Russia for The Atlantic and The New York Review of Books. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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. Svetlana Alexievich (a journalist and Ukraine native) interviewed hundreds of people affected by the meltdownfrom innocent citizens to firefighters to those called in to clean up the disasterand their stories reveal the fear, anger, and uncertainty with which they still live. Comprised of interviews in monologue from, Voices from Chernobyl is a crucially important, unforgettable in its emotional power and honesty.

"Alexievich has not merely given us a work of documentation but of excavation, of revealed meaning. It is hard to imagine how anyone in the West will read these cantos of loss and not feel a sense of communion, of a shared humanity in the face of this horror . . . The stories collected here are not only haunting but illuminating."Andrew Meier, The Nation
"The collection of narratives about the world's worst industrial accident reads like an apocalyptic fairy tale . . . The monologues . . . are exquisite in their plainspoken anguish. And as such, they are beautifully unbearable to read."Time Out Chicago

 

"Svetlana Alexievich's remarkable book, recording the lives and deaths of her fellow Belarussians, has at last made it into American bookstores. (The book was published in 1999 by the British house Aurum, in a translation by Antonina Bouis.) Hers is a peerless collection of testimony. The text is well translated by Keith Gessen . . . Alexievich has not merely given us a work of documentation but of excavation, of revealed meaning. It is hard to imagine how anyone in the West will read these cantos of loss and not feel a sense of communion, of a shared humanity in the face of this horror . . . The stories collected here are not only haunting but illuminating."Andrew Meier, The Nation

 

"Svetlana Alexievich's Voices from Chernobyl, winner of the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction, is the first book to chronicle their stories. As Haruki Murakami did in Underground, his book about the gas attack on Tokyo's subway, Alexievich puts full faith in the power of people's testimony, constructing a narrative from them alone . . . One of the fascinating things about Voices from Chernobyl is the awful beauty in testimonies of pain and suffering. It's worth recalling that these are not writers or singers, but ordinary people who have forged language into a crutch, a sword, a shield, shelter. With comments like these, one would be a fool to ask why Alexievich chose to present this book as an oral history, rather than a conventional narrative. These voices are essential, powerful and brave. One can only hope the half-life of their suffering is not so long."John Freeman, The Star Ledger (Newark)

 

"On April 26, 1986, the people of Belarus lost everything when a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station exploded. Many people died outright, and many were evacuated, forced to leave behind everything from pets to family photographs. Millions of acres remain contaminated, and thousands of people continue to be afflicted with diseases caused by radiation as 20 tons of nuclear fuel sit in a reactor shielded by a leaking sarcophagus known as the Cover. For three years, journalist Alexievich spoke with scores of survivorsthe widow of a first responder, an on-the-scene cameraman, teachers, doctors, farmers, Party bureaucrats, a historian, scientists, evacuees, resettlers, grandmothers, mothersand she now presents their shocking accounts of life in a poisoned world. And what quintessentially human stories these are, as each distinct voice expresses anger, fear, ignorance, stoicism, valor, compassion, and love. Alexievich put her own health at risk to gather these invaluable frontline testimonies, which she has transmuted into a haunting and essential work of literature that one can only hope documents a never-to-be-repeated catastrophe."Booklist (starred review)

 

"A chorus of fatalism, stoic bravery and black, black humor is sounded in this haunting oral history of the 1986 nuclear reactor catastrophe in what is now northeastern Ukraine. Russian journalist Alexievich records a wide array of voices: a woman who clings to her irradiated, dying husband though nurses warn her 'that's not a person anymore, that's a nuclear reactor'; a hunter dispatched to evacuated villages to exterminate the household pets; soldiers sent in to clean up the mess, bitter at the callous, incompetent Soviet authorities who 'flung us there, like sand on the reactor,' but accepting their lot as a test of manhood; an idealistic nuclear engineer whose faith in communism is shattered. And there are the local peasants who take this latest in a long line of disasters in stride, filtering back to their homes to harvest their contaminated potatoes, shrugging that if they survived the Germans, they'll survive radiation. Alexievich shapes these testimonies into novelistic 'monologues' that convey a vivid portrait of late-Communist malaise, in which bullying party bosses, paranoid propaganda and chaotic mobilizations are resisted with bleak sarcasm ('It wasn't milk, it was a radioactive byproduct'), mournful philosophizing ('the mechanism of evil will work under conditions of apocalypse') and lots of vodka. The result is an indelible X-ray of the Russian soul."Publishers Weekly

Synopsis:

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. Svetlana Alexievich was born in the Ukraine and studied journalism at the University of Minsk. She has received numerous awards for her writing, including a prize from the Swedish PEN Institute for courage and dignity as a writer.

Keith Gessen is coeditor of n+1 magazine. He has written about Russia for The Atlantic and The New York Review of Books. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. 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. Svetlana Alexievich (a journalist and Ukraine native) 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 from, Voices from Chernobyl is a crucially important, unforgettable in its emotional power and honesty. Alexievich has not merely given us a work of documentation but of excavation, of revealed meaning. It is hard to imagine how anyone in the West will read these cantos of loss and not feel a sense of communion, of a shared humanity in the face of this horror . . . The stories collected here are not only haunting but illuminating.--Andrew Meier, The Nation The collection of narratives about the world's worst industrial accident reads like an apocalyptic fairy tale . . . The monologues . . . are exquisite in their plainspoken anguish. And as such, they are beautifully unbearable to read.--Time Out Chicago

Svetlana Alexievich's remarkable book, recording the lives and deaths of her fellow Belarussians, has at last made it into American bookstores. (The book was published in 1999 by the British house Aurum, in a translation by Antonina Bouis.) Hers is a peerless collection of testimony. The text is well translated by Keith Gessen . . . Alexievich has not merely given us a work of documentation but of excavation, of revealed meaning. It is hard to imagine how anyone in the West will read these cantos of loss and not feel a sense of communion, of a shared humanity in the face of this horror . . . The stories collected here are not only haunting but illuminating.--Andrew Meier, The Nation

Svetlana Alexievich's Voices from Chernobyl, winner of the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction, is the first book to chronicle their stories. As Haruki Murakami did in Underground, his book about the gas attack on Tokyo's subway, Alexievich puts full faith in the power of people's testimony, constructing a narrative from them alone . . . One of the fascinating things about Voices from Chernobyl is the awful beauty in testimonies of pain and suffering. It's worth recalling that these are not writers or singers, but ordinary people who have forged language into a crutch, a sword, a shield, shelter. With comments like these, one would be a fool to ask why Alexievich chose to present this book as an oral history, rather than a conventional narrative. These voices are essential, powerful and brave. One can only hope the half-life of their suffering is not so long.--John Freeman, The Star Ledger (Newark)

On April 26, 1986, the people of Belarus lost everything when a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station exploded. Many people died outright, and many were evacuated, forced to leave behind everything from pets to family photographs. Millions of acres remain contaminated, and thousands of people continue to be afflicted with diseases caused by radiation as 20 tons of nuclear fuel sit in a reactor shielded by a leaking sarcophagus known as the Cover. For three years, journalist Alexievich spoke with scores of survivors--the widow of a first responder, an on-the-scene cameraman, teachers, doctors, farmers, Party bureaucrats, a historian, scientists, evacuees, resettlers, grandmothers, mothers--and she now presents their shocking accounts of life in a poisoned world. And what quintessentially human stories these are, as each distinct voice expresses anger, fear, ignorance, stoicism, valor, compassion, and love. Alexievich put her own health at risk to gather these invaluable frontline testimonies, which she has transmuted into a haunting and essential work of literature that one can only hope documents a never-to-be-repeated catastrophe.--Booklist (starred review)

A chorus of fatalism, stoic bravery and black, black humor is sounded in this haunting oral history of the 1986 nuclear reactor catastrophe in what is now northeastern Ukraine. Russian journalist Alexievich records a wide array of voices: a woman who clings to her irradiated, dying husband though nurses warn her 'that's not a person anymore, that's a nuclear reactor'; a hunter dispatched to evacuated villages to exterminate the household pets; soldiers sent in to clean up the mess, bitter at the callous, incompetent Soviet authorities who 'flung us there, like sand on the reactor, ' but accepting their lot as a test of manhood; an idealistic nuclear engineer whose faith in communism is shattered. And there are the local peasants who

Synopsis:

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.

About the Author

Svetlana Alexievich was born in the Ukraine and studied journalism at the University of Minsk. She has received numerous awards for her writing, including a prize from the Swedish PEN Institute for "courage and dignity as a writer."

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

lydiaamber, March 24, 2011 (view all comments by lydiaamber)
Both terrifying and heartbreaking, this book chronicles the 1986 disaster in Chernobyl in detail. Written as a series of interviews or "monologues" with residents of Chernobyl and the surrounding areas, the author touches on many topics from the intimate details of death from radiation poisoning to the displacement people felt being permanently evacuated from their homes. "Liquidators" were sent to the nuclear site to clean up the mess, working in 45 second intervals in lead aprons. "Hunters" were ordered to go into evacuated towns to kill and bury all the animals to minimize the risk of spreading the radiation. The stories in this book are disturbing and haunting but they happened and by reading them we can honor the memories of many of the families and people who lost their lives and loved ones and the survivors who are still suffering today.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780312425845
Author:
Alexievich, Svetlana
Publisher:
Picador USA
Translator:
Gessen, Keith
Author:
Gessen, Keith
Subject:
World
Subject:
Social aspects
Subject:
Modern - 20th Century/Nuclear Age
Subject:
Chernobyl Nuclear Accident, Chornobyl', Ukrai
Subject:
Europe - Russia & the Former Soviet Union
Subject:
Environmental aspects
Subject:
Chernobyl nuclear accident, chornobyl, ukrain
Subject:
Russia-General Russian History
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20060431
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.32 x 6.49 x 0.715 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Featured Titles
History and Social Science » Russia » General Russian History
History and Social Science » Russia » Soviet States Post 1985
History and Social Science » World History » 1650 to Present
History and Social Science » World History » Russia

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster New Trade Paper
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Product details 256 pages Picador USA - English 9780312425845 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , 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. Svetlana Alexievich was born in the Ukraine and studied journalism at the University of Minsk. She has received numerous awards for her writing, including a prize from the Swedish PEN Institute for courage and dignity as a writer.

Keith Gessen is coeditor of n+1 magazine. He has written about Russia for The Atlantic and The New York Review of Books. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. 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. Svetlana Alexievich (a journalist and Ukraine native) 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 from, Voices from Chernobyl is a crucially important, unforgettable in its emotional power and honesty. Alexievich has not merely given us a work of documentation but of excavation, of revealed meaning. It is hard to imagine how anyone in the West will read these cantos of loss and not feel a sense of communion, of a shared humanity in the face of this horror . . . The stories collected here are not only haunting but illuminating.--Andrew Meier, The Nation The collection of narratives about the world's worst industrial accident reads like an apocalyptic fairy tale . . . The monologues . . . are exquisite in their plainspoken anguish. And as such, they are beautifully unbearable to read.--Time Out Chicago

Svetlana Alexievich's remarkable book, recording the lives and deaths of her fellow Belarussians, has at last made it into American bookstores. (The book was published in 1999 by the British house Aurum, in a translation by Antonina Bouis.) Hers is a peerless collection of testimony. The text is well translated by Keith Gessen . . . Alexievich has not merely given us a work of documentation but of excavation, of revealed meaning. It is hard to imagine how anyone in the West will read these cantos of loss and not feel a sense of communion, of a shared humanity in the face of this horror . . . The stories collected here are not only haunting but illuminating.--Andrew Meier, The Nation

Svetlana Alexievich's Voices from Chernobyl, winner of the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction, is the first book to chronicle their stories. As Haruki Murakami did in Underground, his book about the gas attack on Tokyo's subway, Alexievich puts full faith in the power of people's testimony, constructing a narrative from them alone . . . One of the fascinating things about Voices from Chernobyl is the awful beauty in testimonies of pain and suffering. It's worth recalling that these are not writers or singers, but ordinary people who have forged language into a crutch, a sword, a shield, shelter. With comments like these, one would be a fool to ask why Alexievich chose to present this book as an oral history, rather than a conventional narrative. These voices are essential, powerful and brave. One can only hope the half-life of their suffering is not so long.--John Freeman, The Star Ledger (Newark)

On April 26, 1986, the people of Belarus lost everything when a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station exploded. Many people died outright, and many were evacuated, forced to leave behind everything from pets to family photographs. Millions of acres remain contaminated, and thousands of people continue to be afflicted with diseases caused by radiation as 20 tons of nuclear fuel sit in a reactor shielded by a leaking sarcophagus known as the Cover. For three years, journalist Alexievich spoke with scores of survivors--the widow of a first responder, an on-the-scene cameraman, teachers, doctors, farmers, Party bureaucrats, a historian, scientists, evacuees, resettlers, grandmothers, mothers--and she now presents their shocking accounts of life in a poisoned world. And what quintessentially human stories these are, as each distinct voice expresses anger, fear, ignorance, stoicism, valor, compassion, and love. Alexievich put her own health at risk to gather these invaluable frontline testimonies, which she has transmuted into a haunting and essential work of literature that one can only hope documents a never-to-be-repeated catastrophe.--Booklist (starred review)

A chorus of fatalism, stoic bravery and black, black humor is sounded in this haunting oral history of the 1986 nuclear reactor catastrophe in what is now northeastern Ukraine. Russian journalist Alexievich records a wide array of voices: a woman who clings to her irradiated, dying husband though nurses warn her 'that's not a person anymore, that's a nuclear reactor'; a hunter dispatched to evacuated villages to exterminate the household pets; soldiers sent in to clean up the mess, bitter at the callous, incompetent Soviet authorities who 'flung us there, like sand on the reactor, ' but accepting their lot as a test of manhood; an idealistic nuclear engineer whose faith in communism is shattered. And there are the local peasants who

"Synopsis" by ,
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.

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