Rebel Book Club x Midnight in Chernobyl ft. Dr. Dame Sue Ion


April 2020: Resilience
Rebel Book: #60
Book: Midnight in Chernobyl
by Adam Higginbotham
Meetup: Hop In – Virtual Event Space
Fuel: White Russian (Cocktails From Your Cupboard by Mix + Muddle)

Rebel Book Club April 2020 Vote

We’ve just closed out another action packed month at Rebel Book Club. For April 2020, we set the theme of Resilience. Initially to dive into an inspirational story which could help us to navigate our current global climate. The April 2020 book vote had some remarkable human stories including:

  • Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  • Rise: Life Lessons in Speaking Out, Standing Tall & Leading the Way by Gina Miller
  • Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham
  • The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather
  • I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

Almost 300 of our members voted on this theme and the winning book was Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham. Now, we’ll be straight with you all, there were mixed feelings about this book. People were nervous about whether the story would be too heavy to read alongside the turbulent times we are facing. That was of course true for a lot of us and that is completely understandable.

It’s Hard to Believe it’s Non-Fiction

For those of us who persevered with the story, it read like a thriller. It was so intense and dramatic that we couldn’t quite believe we were reading a non-fiction book. It took us on a tour of Soviet history via a brief lesson in Physics and a deep dive into Nuclear Science. What was perhaps less obvious, was the original theme: Resilience. There were moments, however.

In our mid-month Power Hour, we picked out the unsung heroes of this horrific disaster; the ordinary people who risked life and limb to clean up a huge mess that had very little to do with them, but every bit to do with the social structures and political system they lived in.

The Main Event

This whole chapter in world history was a fascinating and insightful blend of science, politics and culture, alongside a heady mix of human pride, humility, deceit and sheer knuckles-to-the-bone grit + resilience. So as you’d probably expect, it made for a gripping meetup. Here’s are our April highlights, featuring:

  • Cocktails from Your Cupboard with Rich from Mix + Muddle
  • RBC’s Anca – talking about life in the Soviet Union in the 1980s
  • UK Nuclear expert, Dr. Dame Sue Ion

This month we set up our events space a little differently, inviting everyone into sessions based on theme rather than city. Meaning everyone could jump around and dive into what had got them thinking the most. We also included bitesize 3 minute video lessons on Chernobyl Politics and Science for members who’d struggled to read or finish the book.

Talking to a Nuclear Expert

What we love so much about Rebel Book Club is this incredible array of experts who we get to talk to and learn from. This month was no different. Rock Star of Nuclear Power, Dr. Dame Sue Ion, was our extra special guest. She talked to us about her career, what she remembers about working in the Nuclear Power industry in April 1986 when Chernobyl happened and finally we got her to set us straight on some of the most common misconceptions of Nuclear Power with some Myth Busting.

Check out the highlights of our interview below:

For those looking to recap on a specific section, here’s a handy guide:
1) Introducing Dame Sue Ion [00:00 – 02:50]
2) Working in the Nuclear Industry in the time of Chernobyl [02:50 – 08:40]
3) Myth Busting – True or False on Nuclear Power [08:40 – End]

For those who want to dive deeper, Sue has very kindly sent us some additional information from the World Nuclear Association Information Library about Chernobyl and RBMK Reactors. You can access it here on Mighty Networks.

Are you a Nuclear Expert?

See how much you’ve remembered from our April 2020 book and expert interview with our 10 question Nuclear Power Myth Busting Quiz!

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Thank you for another awesome month, Rebels! You’re all stars!

Things we love so much about our community…

1. How much you love cocktails too…

  • LOVE a white russian (S.S.)
  • Double shot vodka double shot oat milkHeaped teaspoon instant coffee (double shot with the water)Tiny squeeze agave syrupice and shake (M.Z.)

2. That we get to hang out with super smart, engaged and passionate people

  • So keen to hear more about the experience under the USSR (L.H.)
  • I lived in Ukaine from 2003 until 2006 and was tangentially involved in the work to fund the rebuilding of the sarcaphogus in the late 1990s (H.M)
  • One interesting insight for me was how communism used capitalist strategies to motivate people, like bonuses for staff if they hit output targets (C.D.)
  • Thank you for sharing to Anca and all of those on the chat too. Super interesting 🙂 (S.A.)
  • Wow I did not know that cancer treatments are a by-product of nuclear reactors 😮 (T.O)
  • Loved MiC as a book – as a history buff and someone who really enjoyed the HBO show. Good to just get stuck into the story – fascinating, thought-provoking 🙂 (K.C.)

3. How you fully lean into every theme + guest…

  • Thank you Sue!! Such a rare opportunity!! (I.W.)
  • Thanks Sue – really interesting to hear the inside story (D.G)
  • Sue – you’re an absolute bloody inspiration. Loved listening to you! Cheers! (S.S.)
  • Thanks so so so much – this was amazing (L.C.)
  • Such an awesome speaker (S.P.)
  • We had Sue in our [session], diligently answering more of our geeky qustions! so interesting (D.C)
  • Huge thanks to organisers – great event! I liked the sessions by themes as well. Have a lovely night all 🙂 (J.S.)

What’s next?

May 2020 is already underway and our theme is Paradise: Questions of Modern Spirituality. Our book this month is The Awakened Ape by Jevan Pradas. Everyone’s hyped about this theme and we’re ready to get stuck in!

If you’d like to be part of our tribe of Rebels, head over to RebelBook.Club to check out our membership options, or drop Membership Manager, Anca, a note at [email protected]