Voices from Chernobyl

20 December 2004

Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich. Aurum Press, London.

Rather than dealing with the statistics and technical details regarding the series of explosions that lead to one of the worst nuclear catastrophes of last century, this book presents the human side of nuclear fall out.

Thousands of civilians, largely uneducated in the dangers and risks associated with radioactivity, became the subject of scientific analysis. People were evacuated from their homes, which in many cases were buried or destroyed and transplanted into other cities. Many older people returned, unwanted for fear of contamination. Women’s accounts of losing sons or husbands as these were the first to enter the reactor to put out the fires and ‘clean up’. Generations of women who are afraid to conceive a child because of terrifying defects and increase in cancers.

An attempt to understand the human toll, an excellent but quite depressing read, presenting information that is so easily set aside in the race to procure more ‘efficient’ and ‘effective’ nuclear weapons. An arrogant and dangerous exercise.

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