Chernobyl: The hidden history of the world’s worst nuclear disaster

In 1986, a nuclear reactor exploded in Chernobyl, then part of the Soviet Union. In the years since, thousands of people in the region have died of radiation-related illnesses, but the story was covered up within the former Soviet countries. Harvard historian Serhii Plokhy was a young university professor on a train not far from Chernobyl when the accident happened. In his new book, Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe, Plokhy recounts how the Soviet leaders did not speak about the accident for 18 days after the nuclear meltdown. Drawing on newly released files from the KGB and other sources, Plokhy gives the first detailed account of the Chernobyl accident, and argues that it ultimately contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and could happen again in the US, North Korea, Iran or elsewhere. (June 13, 2018 broadcast)

Serhii Plokhy, Professor of Ukrainian History, director of the Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University, author, Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe