Chernobyl Record: The Definitive History of the Chernobyl Catastrophe

by Richard F. Mould

Reviewed July 30, 2004

Book CoverIt has been nearly 20 years since the catastrophe of the number 4 reactor at Chernobyl. Since the accident occurred during the time of the Soviet Union, precise and accurate information of the events is still somewhat murky. One hopes that a book entitled Chernobyl Record: The Definitive History of the Chernobyl Catastrophe, would provide some insight into those events and the lingering effects of the accident to the people and the region.

However, this book is not the definitive history of events that resulted in the worst nuclear accident in history. It is an odd mix of some history, a traveler's journal, and great deal of statistics. The tone of the work is uneven, ranging from the dry technical to the emotional eyewitness accounts. It becomes quite clear that this book try to minimize the nuclear aspects of the incident. Despite its 14 years of research, tables, maps and diagrams, this work amounts to a pro-nuclear-industry revision of the accident.

The book does contain an English translation of "The Legasov Testament." Originally published in Pravda in May 1998, it was written by Valery Legasov, a nuclear scientist and one of the principal Soviet officials in the field of atomic energy. This "testament" is meant to act as a reflection of the Chernobyl accident by an "insider." According to Dr. Mould, Legasov's career was ruined "in part because [he] began to speak out" However, one must question if this is an accurate account or one provided to the west by the Soviets.

Overall the book does provide an interesting account and point of view of the Chernobyl catastrophe and should be read to understand a pro-nuclear power point of view.