The Baillie Gifford Prize (previously the Samuel Johnson Prize), which celebrates the best in non-fiction writing, awarded the 2018 prize to Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe by Serhii Plokhy.
Chernobyl recounts the story behind the worst nuclear disaster in history: on April 26, 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl power plant in Soviet Ukraine exploded, putting everyone on the planet at risk of nuclear annihilation. Plokhy examines the variety of factors that made Chernobyl possible, including a deeply flawed nuclear industry and the Soviet political system that created it.
The judges praised Chernobyl for its precise account of a nuclear disaster and its exploration of the event’s long-lasting implications. Said official judge Fiammetta Rocco, Chernobyl “is about political cynicisms, scientific ignorance, and the importance of holding people to account. It’s an incredibly moral book.”