A quick look (in the "Great Disasters" series) at this turning point in the history of the nuclear-power industry, with plenty of color pictures but not much solid information. Caused by engineers conducting a vaguely described experiment, the disaster's effects were exacerbated by Soviet officials' reluctance to release information, even to local citizens, or to ask for international help. The resulting fallout is comparable to what would be produced by a single nuclear bomb, and the damage will be measured in millions and billions: millions of people affected, billions of dollars in crop damage and cleanup expenses. Rickard describes the emergency measures that were eventually taken, and world-wide response to the incident, He also mentions similar releases of radioactive material and alternate ways to produce energy, then closes with a glossary, a short but current bibliography, and a list of addresses. The paintings and photographs that illustrate this are generally unhelpful--even, in the case of a map from the London Times, nonsensical. At best, a supplementary purchase on an important subject; direct readers first to the relevant chapters in Helgerson's Nuclear Accidents. Glossary, bibliography, index.