CHERNOBYL: The Forbidden Truth by Alla Yaroshinskaya

CHERNOBYL: The Forbidden Truth

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Yaroshinskaya, a Ukrainian journalist, presents a moving account of the ongoing effects of Chernobyl, and a searing indictment of the government response to them. Yaroshinskaya and her family lived in Zhitomir, a town not far from Chernobyl, when the nuclear plant exploded. She knew nothing of the accident until foreign broadcasts made it impossible to conceal the disaster, and Soviet media began to present carefully sanitized accounts. This was only the beginning of a campaign of disinformation, which the author angrily exposes. She herself was prevented from publishing stories of the villages to which local residents were evacuated--villages often built in zones contaminated by fallout, and in which little ""clean"" (radiation-free) food was available. Independent tests showed high radiation levels, even in playgrounds and hospitals. Children suffered high rates of thyroid disease; plants and small animals began to exhibit deformities. Yet the government insisted that all was under control, publishing whitewash stories in the official press to ""prove"" its contention. Once contaminated by radioactivity, these citizens were abandoned by the Soviet system. Nor was the damage confined to the Ukraine; there were zones of severe contamination in Byelorussia and Russia. It is easy to believe the author when she describes Chernobyl as ""the greatest catastrophe of our time."" Readers may find the unfamiliar proper names and place names daunting, and the style is very muddy--possibly because it was translated first into French, then into English. A clear explanation of the different units of measurement of radiation levels, which are simply thrown out in bewildering profusion, would also have been useful. Despite its difficulty, this is a book of the greatest importance to anyone concerned with the dangers of high technology set loose without proper concern for public safety.

Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 1995
Page count: 145pp
Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska