This book rings with authenticity. Medvedev was chief engineer at Chernobyl in the 1970s, knew the plant well, and was sent back as a special investigator immediately after the 1986 explosion. Having interviewed all the individuals involved, he provides a great quantity of firsthand testimony showing from hour to hour and minute to minute precisely what was and was not done both before and after the explosion. He is not sparing in his judgments of those-all the way up to the ministerial level-whose ignorance, complacency, negligence or stupidity contributed to the disaster, or of the system that placed them in positions of authority. He is also not sparing in his tributes to those who showed courage and heroism when the disaster struck.