Thursday 29 August 2013

Alexievich, Svetlana "Voices from Chernobyl"

Alexievich, Svetlana "Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster" (Russian: Чернобыльская молитва/Černobylskaja molitva) - 2006

I knew about Chernobyl. We all do. We have all heard of the nuclear disaster in 1986. We have all heard about the dangers we all have been put in by nuclear power plants. And not just since Fukushima 2011. For us Europeans, it started a lot earlier.

We also knew that the Russians tried to hide the fact of the accident to the foreigners for as long as possible. What we only knew from hearsay was the fact that they even hid it from their own people, that they sent their own people into harm's way. Firefighters and other "volunteers" who were sent into the danger zone to clean up. And not just for a couple of minutes. Most of them are dead now and if it hadn't been for Svetlana Alexievich and a lot of heroic people telling their stories, we still wouldn't know what exactly happened in Chernobyl and its surroundings.

If you are at all interested in the future of our planet, in the environment, you should read this harrowing account of what money can do to people. Because that's what it's all about: money and power. Every war is fought over it and every decision in business is made over it. And who pays the price? We, the "little people".

A very powerful story that everyone should read, especially those who still think that nuclear power is the "cheapest" and "best" form of energy.

This book is a strong reminder of the quote "We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children" (probably by Moses Henry Cass - according to Quote Investigator but attributed to many other wise folks and people).

From the back cover:

"'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."

Svetlana Alexievich received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015 "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time" and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Friedenspreis) in 2013. 

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here.

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