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“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 
― Stephen King, On Writing.

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"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."— J.K. Rowling

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster - Swietłana Aleksijewicz, Keith Gessen Today, April 26th, is the 26th 27th anniversary of Chernobyl catastrophe. In case you're wondering - no, Google did NOT feature it on its home page (same as last year, sadly). But shouldn't humanity remember this disaster?****This is one of the most horrifying books I have ever read. It reads like a postapocalyptic story, except for all of it is horrifyingly real. Svetlana Alexievich, a journalist, provides real but almost surreal in their horror oral accounts of Chernobyl disaster. On April 26, 1986 an explosion of reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power station marked the transition from the idea of a "peaceful atom" to the worst nuclear catastrophe in history. This was a disaster largely hushed up by the government; people were lied to, the effects were minimized and brushed off, and there were not enough resources for a proper and safe clean-up. These true stories are heart-wrenching and shocking, honest and resigned, angry and hopeless. The city of Pripyat, which was home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear station, remains abandoned since that fateful April of 1986. People were thrown into the areas where machines were unable to function due to radiation - while wearing little more than t-shirts and equipped with shovels. People were on the burning roof of the reactor without any protection. People were dying from acute radiation sickness in the most horrifying ways imaginable. Scientists tried to sound alarm but were silenced. Produce heavily contaminated with radiation was still exported to other parts of the Soviet Union. Contaminated items from looted towns and villages appeared all over the country. People were whisked from their homes on buses and told that they would be gone for only a few days. Pets were shot to contain spread of contamination. Visiting officials came in full radiations suits; their local guide was wearing a sundress and sandals. Radiation meters readings were either ignored or falsified. Officials were bringing people out for May Day parades outside in accordance with orders from "above" and then watched their own family members succumb to the disease. Listless sick children live in surrounding areas and are just waiting to die. Alexievich lets the eyewitness accounts speak for themselves, with very little editorial voice. Occasionally, she clarifies the emotions or the reactions of the interviewees, but for the most part she lets them speak in their own voice. She does not preach or editorialize, and that makes the book more poignant.These are stories of people robbed of their present and future, of the disaster that is still claiming lives. Its effects will be felt for decades to come, in the sick children, mutated animals, abandoned cities and villages, and destroyed lives. I cried when I was reading this book. How can you not?5 stars for the fact that she was courageous enough to listen to the heartbreaking accounts and compile all these stories. I would not have had enough strength to do that.