FINAL WARNING: The Legacy of Chernobyl by
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FINAL WARNING: The Legacy of Chernobyl

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A gripping memoir of the experiences of Dr. Gale, America's foremost authority on the treatment of radiation-accident victims, recounting his post-Chernobyl mission to save the lives of Russians in the wake of the most major nuclear accident to date. Hauser is the author of 11 previous books, both fiction (Dear Hannah, 1987, etc.) and nonfiction (The Black Lights, 1985, etc.). Hauser's contribution here is in simplifying the intricacies of nuclear power for the general reader, while Gale supplies the drama of the struggle to save lives. What emerges is a story of man's battle for survival cutting through the murky depths of natural bureaucratic sluggishness. Time and again, Gale was able to work wonders of political scything, as when he insisted on the Soviets calling for Yair Reisner, an Israeli biochemist, despite the embarrassment to the Soviets of giving publicity to a citizen of a country with which they have no diplomatic relations. Another incident has Reisner insisting that the Russian hospital move a large centrifuge from the sixth floor to the fourth, which entailed knocking down a wall and rebuilding it. The book outlines differences between American and Soviet medical practices--such as a Soviet hand-sterilization machine that works on ultrasound principles, and an assembly-line surgical procedure for cataracts, in which patients' beds are pushed through some five surgeon stations, each of which does a segment of the surgery. Gale also took comfort in the peculiar lack of media hubbub at the Moscow hospital, enabling him to focus on the purpose of his mission--bone marrow transplants--in a serene environment. Hanging over the book is the specter of future similar accidents, and Gale offers some suggestions to avoid them, including better communications within the nuclear industry, improved personnel selection and training, placement of plants in low-population areas, a national medical program for similar disasters, solving the problem of nuclear waste, international cooperation and data-sharing, and the development of solar power. With its immediacy of reporting and strong cautionary message, this compelling account deserves a wide and attentive audience.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1988
Publisher: Warner