Top 10 Best Books to Read in Nuclear Engineering - August 2021

Here are our top ten recommendations if you are looking for the best books to read in Nuclear Engineering. We have made sure our list is diverse to cater to the interests of different types of readers.

1. Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Nuclear Engineering - August 2021

A New York Times Best Book of the Year A Time Best Book of the Year A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence Winner From journalist Adam Higginbotham, the New York Times bestselling “account that reads almost like the script for a movie” ( The Wall Street Journal)— a powerful investigation into Chernobyl and how propaganda, secrecy, and myth have obscured the true story of one of the history’s worst nuclear disasters. Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering one of the twentieth century’s greatest disasters. In the thirty years since then, Chernobyl has become lodged in the collective nightmares of the world: shorthand for the spectral horrors of radiation poisoning, for a dangerous technology slipping its leash, for ecological fragility, and for what can happen when a dishonest and careless state endangers its citizens and the entire world. But the real story of the accident, clouded from the beginning by secrecy, propaganda, and misinformation, has long remained in dispute. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews conducted over the course of more than ten years, as well as letters, unpublished memoirs, and documents from recently-declassified archives, Adam Higginbotham brings the disaster to life through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed it firsthand. The result is a “riveting, deeply reported reconstruction” ( Los Angeles Times ) and a definitive account of an event that changed history: a story that is more complex, more human, and more terrifying than the Soviet myth. “The most complete and compelling history yet” ( The Christian Science Monitor ), Higginbotham’s “superb, enthralling, and necessarily terrifying...extraordinary” ( The New York Times ) book is an indelible portrait of the lessons learned when mankind seeks to bend the natural world to his will—lessons which, in the face of climate change and other threats, remain not just vital but necessary.

  • Author: Adam Higginbotham
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (February 4, 2020)
  • Genre: Engineering & Transportation, Engineering
  • ISBN: 978-1501134630
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.38 inches


2. Voices from Chernobyl (Lannan Selection)

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Nuclear Engineering - August 2021

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature A journalist by trade, who now suffers from an immune deficiency developed while researching this book, presents personal accounts of what happened to the people of Belarus after the nuclear reactor accident in 1986, and the fear, anger, and uncertainty that they still live with. Chernobyl , the acclaimed HBO miniseries (winner of ten Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards), is based in large part on the personal recollections from Voices from Chernobyl . On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history occurred in Chernobyl and contaminated as much as three quarters of Europe. Voices from Chernobyl is the first book to present personal accounts of the tragedy. Journalist Svetlana Alexievich interviewed hundreds of people affected by the meltdown---from innocent citizens to firefighters to those called in to clean up the disaster---and their stories reveal the fear, anger, and uncertainty with which they still live. Comprised of interviews in monologue form, Voices from Chernobyl is a crucially important work, unforgettable in its emotional power and honesty. The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Svetlana Alexievich "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time."

  • Author: Svetlana Alexievich
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press; Reprint edition (July 1, 2019)
  • Genre: Engineering & Transportation, Engineering
  • ISBN: 978-1628973303
  • Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 8.9 inches


3. Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Nuclear Engineering - August 2021

A Chernobyl survivor and award-winning historian "mercilessly chronicles the absurdities of the Soviet system" in this "vividly empathetic" account of the worst nuclear accident in history ( The Wall Street Journal ). On the morning of April 26, 1986, Europe witnessed the worst nuclear disaster in history: the explosion of a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Soviet Ukraine. Dozens died of radiation poisoning, fallout contaminated half the continent, and thousands fell ill.  In Chernobyl , Serhii Plokhy draws on new sources to tell the dramatic stories of the firefighters, scientists, and soldiers who heroically extinguished the nuclear inferno. He lays bare the flaws of the Soviet nuclear industry, tracing the disaster to the authoritarian character of the Communist party rule, the regime's control over scientific information, and its emphasis on economic development over all else.  Today, the risk of another Chernobyl looms in the mismanagement of nuclear power in the developing world. A moving and definitive account, Chernobyl is also an urgent call to action.

  • Author: Serhii Plokhy
  • Genre: Business & Money, Industries, Energy & Mining, Oil & Energy


4. QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (Princeton Science Library, 90)

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Nuclear Engineering - August 2021

Celebrated for his brilliantly quirky insights into the physical world, Nobel laureate Richard Feynman also possessed an extraordinary talent for explaining difficult concepts to the general public. Here Feynman provides a classic and definitive introduction to QED (namely, quantum electrodynamics), that part of quantum field theory describing the interactions of light with charged particles. Using everyday language, spatial concepts, visualizations, and his renowned "Feynman diagrams" instead of advanced mathematics, Feynman clearly and humorously communicates both the substance and spirit of QED to the layperson. A. Zee's introduction places Feynman’s book and his seminal contribution to QED in historical context and further highlights Feynman’s uniquely appealing and illuminating style.

  • Author: Richard P. Feynman
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Revised edition (October 26, 2014)
  • Genre: Engineering & Transportation, Engineering
  • ISBN: 978-0691164090
  • Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.54 x 8.98 inches


5. Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters; From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Nuclear Engineering - August 2021

From the moment radiation was discovered in the late nineteenth century, nuclear science has had a rich history of innovative scientific exploration and discovery, coupled with mistakes, accidents, and downright disasters. Mahaffey, a long-time advocate of continued nuclear research and nuclear energy, looks at each incident in turn and analyzes what happened and why, often discovering where scientists went wrong when analyzing past meltdowns. Every incident has lead to new facets in understanding about the mighty atom - and Mahaffey puts forth what the future should be for this final frontier of science that still holds so much promise.

  • Author: James Mahaffey
  • Genre: Engineering & Transportation, Engineering, Energy Production & Extraction, Nuclear


6. How to Drive a Nuclear Reactor (Springer Praxis Books)

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Nuclear Engineering - August 2021

Have you ever wondered how a nuclear power station works? This lively book will answer that question. It’ll take you on a journey from the science behind nuclear reactors, through their start-up, operation and shutdown. Along the way it covers a bit of the engineering, reactor history, different kinds of reactors and what can go wrong with them. Much of this is seen from the viewpoint of a trainee operator on a Pressurised Water Reactor - the most common type of nuclear reactor in the world.  Colin Tucker has spent the last thirty years keeping reactors safe. Join him on a tour that is the next best thing to driving a nuclear reactor yourself!

  • Author: Colin Tucker
  • Publisher: Springer; 1st ed. 2019 edition (January 26, 2020)
  • Genre: Engineering & Transportation, Engineering
  • ISBN: 978-3030338756
  • Dimensions: 6.14 x 0.6 x 9.21 inches


7. The Radioactive Boy Scout: The True Story of a Boy and His Backyard Nuclear Reactor

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Nuclear Engineering - August 2021

Growing up in suburban Detroit, David Hahn was fascinated by science, and his basement experiments—building homemade fireworks, brewing moonshine, and concocting his own self-tanning lotion—were more ambitious than those of other boys. While working on his Atomic Energy badge for the Boy Scouts, David’s obsessive attention turned to nuclear energy. Throwing caution to the wind, he plunged into a new project: building a nuclear breeder reactor in his backyard garden shed. In The Radioactive Boy Scout , veteran journalist Ken Silverstein recreates in brilliant detail the months of David’s improbable nuclear quest. Posing as a physics professor, David solicited information on reactor design from the U.S. government and from industry experts. (Ironically, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was his number one source of information.) Scavenging antiques stores and junkyards for old-fashioned smoke detectors and gas lanterns—both of which contain small amounts of radioactive material—and following blueprints he found in an outdated physics textbook, David cobbled together a crude device that threw off toxic levels of radiation. His unsanctioned and wholly unsupervised project finally sparked an environmental catastrophe that put his town’s forty thousand residents at risk and caused the EPA to shut down his lab and bury it at a radioactive dumpsite in Utah. An outrageous account of ambition and, ultimately, hubris that sits comfortably on the shelf next to such offbeat science books as Driving Mr. Albert and stories of grand capers like Catch Me If You Can , The Radioactive Boy Scout is a real-life adventure with the narrative energy of a first-rate thriller.

  • Author: Ken Silverstein
  • Publisher: Random House (March 2, 2004)
  • Genre: Kindle Store, Kindle eBooks, Politics & Social Sciences


8. On the Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Nuclear Engineering - August 2021

March 11, 2011. The Tōhoku earthquake struck just before three on a Friday afternoon. Massive earthquake damage was followed by tsunami rising to heights of 40 meters that swept 10km inland, scouring the land of homes, schools, communities, and people. The earthquake and tsunami alone were disasters of incredible proportion, resulting in over 15,000 deaths, over 100,000 buildings destroyed, and economic losses estimated as high as $235 billion by the World Bank. And that was only the natural disaster. The manmade disaster began the same day, as the tsunami swept over the seawall of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, flooding the facility and destroying much of its equipment, including its onsite emergency power generators. Cut off from all external power sources, the reactors and spent fuel-rod assemblies began to overheat. Three reactors suffered meltdowns. Hydrogen gas explosions blew apart the outer containment buildings on three reactors. And the world watched as Japan struggled to bring the situation under control before the worst scenario came to pass. Despite further natural and manmade obstacles, the men and women at the plant succeeded in their efforts, gradually bringing the reactors under control, restoring power, and edging back, one inch at a time, from the very brink of disaster. This is their story, based on extensive interviews with the people who fought and won that battle, and especially with Masao Yoshida, the man who drove them all to get the job done. Here at last is the inside story of what they faced, what resources and information they had to work with, and why they made the decisions they did. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Ken Watanabe and directed by Setsuro Wakamatsu!

  • Author: Ryusho Kadota
  • Publisher: Kurodahan Press (December 24, 2019)
  • Genre: Engineering & Transportation, Engineering


9. Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Nuclear Engineering - August 2021

“A gripping, suspenseful page-turner” ( Kirkus Reviews ) with a “fast-paced, detailed narrative that moves like a thriller” ( International Business Times ), Fukushima teams two leading experts from the Union of Concerned Scientists, David Lochbaum and Edwin Lyman, with award-winning journalist Susan Q. Stranahan to give us the first definitive account of the 2011 disaster that led to the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl. Four years have passed since the day the world watched in horror as an earthquake large enough to shift the Earth's axis by several inches sent a massive tsunami toward the Japanese coast and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing the reactors' safety systems to fail and explosions to reduce concrete and steel buildings to rubble. Even as the consequences of the 2011 disaster continue to exact their terrible price on the people of Japan and on the world, Fukushima addresses the grim questions at the heart of the nuclear debate: could a similar catastrophe happen again, and—most important of all—how can such a crisis be averted?

  • Author: David Lochbaum
  • Publisher: The New Press; Reprint edition (February 10, 2015)
  • Genre: Engineering & Transportation, Engineering


10. Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Nuclear Engineering - August 2021

“Policymakers and casual readers alike can benefit . . . eye-opening . . . sheds lots of light with little wasted heat.”― Publishers Weekly The near meltdown of Fukushima, the upheavals in the Middle East, the BP oil spill, and the looming reality of global warming have reminded the president and all U.S. citizens that nothing has more impact on our lives than the supply and demand for energy. Its procurement dominates our economy and foreign policy more than any other factor. But the “energy question” is more confusing, contentious, and complicated than ever before. We need to know if nuclear power will ever really be safe. We need to know if solar and wind power will ever really be viable. And we desperately need to know if the natural gas deposits in Pennsylvania are a windfall of historic proportions or a false alarm that will create more problems than solutions. Richard A. Muller provides the answers in this must-read manual for our energy priorities now and in the coming years. 50 illustrations

  • Author: Richard A. Muller
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (April 22, 2013)
  • Genre: Engineering & Transportation, Engineering
  • ISBN: 978-0393345100
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches