• Atoms and Ashes

  • A Global History of Nuclear Disasters
  • By: Serhii Plokhy
  • Narrated by: Leighton Pugh
  • Length: 12 hrs and 8 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (47 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A chilling account of seventy years of nuclear catastrophes, by the author of the “definitive” (Economist) Cold War history, Nuclear Folly.

Nuclear energy was embraced across the globe at the height of the nuclear industry in the 1960s and 1970s; today, there are 440 nuclear reactors operating throughout the world, with nuclear power providing ten percent of world electricity. Yet as the world seeks to reduce carbon emissions to combat climate change, the question arises: Just how safe is nuclear energy?

Atoms and Ashes recounts the dramatic history of nuclear accidents that have dogged the industry in its military and civil incarnations since the 1950s. Through the stories of six terrifying major incidents—Bikini Atoll, Kyshtym, Windscale, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima—Cold War expert Serhii Plokhy explores the risks of nuclear power, both for military and peaceful purposes, while offering a vivid account of how individuals and governments make decisions under extraordinary circumstances. Atoms and Ashes provides a crucial perspective on the most dangerous nuclear disasters of the past in order to safeguard our future.

©2022 Serhii Polkhy (P)2022 Penguin Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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This was a pretty sensational and biased book.

The author repeatedly noted that medical professionals and research scientists disagreed with this conclusion or that about the potential dangers of nuclear energy, but then went forward with the conclusions as obviously true anyway, without offering supporting analysis or evidence. Additionally, he did not fully consider the environmental risks of other forms of power, and assumed that nuclear waste - poisonous but relatively easily contained- is more of a burden to future generations than are either waste from current forms of electricity generation or the environmental destruction required for large-scale implementation of renewables. It was frustrating, because his analysis of the danger of future accidents should we massively expand nuclear generation is pretty reasonable.

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Edge of your seat history

Plokhy grabs your attention from page one with his attention to the human condition and illumination of extraordinary courage of these historical figures. You will want to curse human greed and cry at the heart breaks. Plokhy covers the five major nuclear accidents in 1.25 hr segments. He integrates the technical, social, and personal seamlessly, providing a rich context to thesis: nuclear may be riskier than the price of research.