Skip to main content

Midnight in Chernobyl

February 27, 2020

It started with a TV show. Now I’ve officially gone down the nuclear rabbit hole.

I heard all of my friends talking about the HBO miniseries Chernobyl, and everything I was hearing was good. So when the library purchased the DVDs, I put my name on the list. I was so excited when they came in for me that I watched the first episode the same day I checked them out (which I hardly ever do). 

And I was hooked. 

It was stressful and nerve-wracking and some of the men needed to be punched in the face for their egomaniacal stupidity, but I was all in. I could only watch one of the five episodes a day because it was really intense, but it didn’t haunt me quite as much as I expected.

On the day I finished the last episode I was voting in the Goodreads Best of the Year poll, and came across Adam Higginbotham’s recent release, Midnight in Chernobyl and knew I needed to read it. 

I thought Higginbotham’s book was a good companion to the miniseries. The TV episodes helped me get a good visual of the whole incident and then the book gave me the more accurate picture of how things really happened. (The TV show was close, but there are always limits.) 

Here are things I learned that I either did not know or had wrong in my brain:

  1. Chernobyl happened in April 1986. That’s in my lifetime. What? I was 5. For some reason, I thought that this happened back in the 1960s or something. (Also, that scene in Scrooged where Bill Murray references “Russian vodka poisoned by Chernobyl” was released in 1988—just two years after the event. This is how my brain works. It’s also a pretty big indictment of my public school education.)
  2. I thought that it happened as one of those accidents that sometimes occur. I didn’t realize the plant’s operators basically caused it by going ahead with a test under less than ideal conditions. (Yes, I read the whole book. I understand the design was flawed, but if the plant technicians had followed policy instead of rushing ahead like a bull in a china shop, maybe things wouldn’t have gotten so far out of control. Just saying…)
  3. I did not realize the level of secrecy the Soviets tried to maintain. I grew up in a small town where everyone’s secret motto was “Gee, I hope I look all right.” Not actually BE all right. Just look ok for posterity. But man those USSR guys had us beat, hands down, which blew my mind.

And now you’ve joined me in the rabbit hole. Welcome. It’s addictive.

I’m glad I saw and read these. I highly recommend them, but be warned they are not for the faint of heart. 

Now I think I need to read something with a cute guy and an HEA.

Happy NOT blowing up…

:) Amanda

Panda cub avatar


Amanda is a classically-trained pianist who loves to read. Like any good librarian, she also has two cats named after Italian cities. Amanda spends her free time sitting in Nashville traffic, baking, and running the Interlibrary Loan office at the Nashville Public Library.


Age Groups