Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy


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Award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy in conversation with Luke Harding

This event will now run from 19.15 – 20.15, rather than 18.45 – 20.15 as previously advertised.

On 26 April 1986 at 123am a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Soviet Ukraine exploded. While the authorities scrambled to understand what was occurring, workers, engineers, firefighters and those living in the area were abandoned to their fate. The blast put the world on the brink of nuclear annihilation, contaminating over half of Europe with radioactive fallout.

Historian Serhii Plokhy talks to journalist and author Luke Harding, drawing on his recent book Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy, winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2018. In this impeccably-researched and riveting account, the catastrophe becomes emblematic of the decline of the Soviet state itself, from the complacency that led to the disaster, to the massive underestimation of its political and human aftermath.

Serhii Plokhy is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University. A leading authority on Eastern Europe, who has published extensively in English, Ukrainian and Russian, he has lived and taught in Ukraine, Canada and the United States. His recent books include The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine (2015), The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union (2015), The Cossack Myth: History and Nationhood in the Age of Empires (2012) and Yalta: The Price of Peace Viking/Penguin (2010; 2011).

Luke Harding is a Guardian foreign correspondent. He has reported from Delhi, Berlin and Moscow and covered wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. His most recent book is Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win, and earlier titles include Mafia State: How One Reporter Became An Enemy Of The Brutal New Russia (2011)  The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man (2014) and A Very Expensive Poison: the Definitive Story of the Murder of Litvinenko (2016).

In partnership with the Ukrainian Institute in London 


Name: Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy
Where: British Library St Pancras
When: -
Price: Full Price: £10.00
Member: £10.00
Senior 60+: £8.00
Student: £7.00
Registered Unemployed: £7.00
Under 18: £7.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546