The Story of a Nuclear Disaster

The edge-of-your-seat story of the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear power plant by nuclear scientists and a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist—published to coincide with the third anniversary

“It’s been over thirty years since a reactor in the United States melted down. Some believe this indicates that all safety problems have been addressed and no challenges remain. That’s not ‘mission accomplished,’ it’s just plain luck. The Japanese thought the same thing until their luck ran out.”
—from Fukushima

On March 11, 2011, an earthquake large enough to knock the earth from its axis sent a massive tsunami speeding toward the Japanese coast and the aging and vulnerable Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power reactors. Over the following weeks, the world watched in horror as a natural disaster became a man-made catastrophe: fail-safes failed, cooling systems shut down, nuclear rods melted.

In the first definitive account of the Fukushima disaster, two leading experts from the Union of Concerned Scientists, David Lochbaum and Edwin Lyman, team up with journalist Susan Q. Stranahan, the lead reporter of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Pulitzer Prize–winning coverage of the Three Mile Island accident, to tell this harrowing story. Fukushima combines a fast-paced, riveting account of the tsunami and the nuclear emergency it created with an explanation of the science and technology behind the meltdown as it unfolded in real time. Bolstered by photographs, explanatory diagrams, and a comprehensive glossary, the narrative also extends to other severe nuclear accidents to address both the terrifying question of whether it could happen here and how such a crisis can be averted.


“A compelling analysis of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima and a pointed challenge to the nuclear industry and its regulators.”
—Rush Holt, U.S. House of Representatives
“This amazing book provides both a blow-by-blow account of the Fukushima accident and an exploration of what needs to be done worldwide to improve nuclear safety. Essential reading, whether you agree with all of its conclusions or not.”
—Matthew Bunn, professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government
“A riveting account of the unfolding of the Fukushima accident that gives the reader a feel for how hard it is to respond to an unprecedented catastrophe in the face of uncertainty.”
—Victor Gilinsky, former commissioner at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
“There are other books on Fukushima, but the only one covering this ground is Fukushima, which takes a more global and policy-related approach. Told with economy, drama, and scientific accuracy, this book is a must for anyone involved in energy assessment or concerned about nuclear energy issues.”
Library Journal (starred review)
“Anyone seriously interested in understanding the issues involved in delivering ‘safe’ nuclear energy will be rewarded by reading this book; anybody involved in delivering nuclear power should be required to read it.”
—Robert Gallucci, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
“Everyone who cares about the Faustian bargain we make for nuclear energy must read this terrifying story. ”
—David Suzuki, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation and host of The Nature of Things
“Gripping and authoritative, Fukushima opens a new chapter in the debate on the difficult and perhaps impossible goal of safe nuclear power.”
—Alexander Glaser, assistant professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
“It’s hard to imagine a more comprehensive and compelling account of what happened after an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011. There are lessons in this book for all of us. This book is a must-read for anyone who cares about nuclear power.”
—Robert J. Rosenthal, executive director of the Center for Investigative Reporting
“No one with an interest in the present and future of nuclear power in the United States should miss it.”
Los Angeles Times

News and Reviews


Susan Stranahan talks about the book Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster in an interview on C-Span.

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times reviews Fukushima

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Susan Q. Stranahan discusses lingering nuclear safety issues in an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Washington Post

The Washington Post reviews Fukushima

Goodreads Reviews