Midnight in Chernobyl: The Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster

By: Adam Higginbotham

Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering history’s worst nuclear disaster. In the thirty years since then, Chernobyl has become lodged in the collective nightmares of the world: shorthand for the spectral horrors of radiation poisoning, for a dangerous technology slipping its leash, for ecological fragility, and for what can happen when a dishonest and careless state endangers its citizens and the entire world. But the real story of the accident, clouded from the beginning by secrecy, propaganda, and misinformation, has long remained in dispute. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews conducted over the course of more than ten years, as well as letters, unpublished memoirs, and documents from recently declassified archives, Adam Higginbotham has written a harrowing and compelling narrative which brings the disaster to life through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed it firsthand. The result is a masterful nonfiction thriller, and the definitive account of an event that changed history: a story that is more complex, more human, and more terrifying than the Soviet myth.

Note on translation and transliteration. Maps. Cast of characters. Epilogue. Author’s note. Glossary. Further information about measuring radiation. Source notes. Bibliography. Index. Black-and-white photo inserts.

ISBN: 9781501134616

JLG Release: Jul 2019

Sensitive Areas: Language: Strong Language, Violence: Suicide
Topics: History of Russia and the former Soviet Union , Nuclear power plants , Radiation , Disasters , Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station

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Awards & Honors

2020 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction Winner
2019 Goodreads Choice Award Finalist
NPR’s Book Concierge - 2019
NYT Notable Books - 2019
CPL Best Books - 2019
Los Angeles Times Science and Technology Finalist

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Publishers Weekly, Booklist*, Kirkus Reviews*

Book Details



First Release

July 2019



Dewey Classification


Trim Size

9" x 6"

Page Count


Accelerated Reader


Scholastic Reading Counts





Print Book


Hardcover edition


Simon & Schuster (Adult)

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Language: Strong Language, Violence: Suicide


History of Russia and the former Soviet Union, Nuclear power plants, Radiation, Disasters, Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station,

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