Melting Sun by Andrew Leatherbarrow [7/10]

Historian Andrew Leatherbarrow does not lack for courage. After tackling the calamity that was Chernobyl 01:23:40: The Incredible True Story of the World’s Worst Nuclear Disaster in 2016, now he wrestles with “Melting Sun: The History of Nuclear Power in Japan, and the Disaster at Fukushima Daiichi.” As with his previous book, Leatherbarrow’s forte is meticulous assemblage of publicly available date, which for Fukushima must have been daunting, so analyzed and dissected has the 2011 disaster been. Patiently he walks through the post-WWII development of nuclear energy in Japan, up to construction of and operation of the six-reactor power plant on the east coast, then plunges the reader into a hour-by-hour exposition of the calamity, during which three of the reactors melted down. I have read all the accounts of those fraught days and they fall between two extremes, the technical unwinding of the accident and the dramatization of the terror-ridden moments. Melting Sun straddles both angles, being both meticulous on the nuts and bolts, and driven by the storyline. As such, this version might not quite suit the geek out to comprehend or the nonfiction devotee seeking atmosphere, but if you are in the large middle audience wanting to relive but also learn, it could be your one stop shop to all that is Fukushima Daiichi. A treat and most accomplished.

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