This review was first published by Booklist on January 1, 2019.
**STARRED REVIEW** Midnight in Chernobyl is a top-notch historical narrative: a tense, fast-paced, engrossing, and revelatory product of more than a decade of research. Higginbotham interviewed most of the surviving central participants in the disaster, examined volumes of newly declassified Soviet documents, and surveyed previous research and reportage. The result is a stunningly detailed account of the explosion of Reactor Four at the Chernobyl nuclear-power plant on April 26, 1986. It offers a brief history of the development of the Soviet nuclear-power program leading up to the construction of the plant at Chernobyl, a second-by-second account of the night of the accident, the confluence of causes, the evacuation of the surrounding countryside, the containment and cleanup efforts, and a deep dive into the aftermath: the medical and environmental consequences, the political machinations and missteps, the role Chernobyl played in the downfall of the USSR, and the effect it had on the pursuit of nuclear power worldwide. For all its wealth of information, the work never becomes overwhelming or difficult to follow. Higginbotham humanizes the tale, maintaining a focus on the people involved and the choices, both heroic and not, they made in unimaginable circumstances. This is an essential human tale with global consequences.