Ahead of delivering his lecture at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this summer, acclaimed author and academic, Serhii Plokhy, Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University, was joined by around 50 alumni and invited guests for a special event held in partnership with Baillie Gifford.

The evening was hosted by Professor Richard A. Williams, Principal and Vice Chancellor at Panmure House, the former home of Adam Smith and a new world class centre for the latest economic and social debate and academic thinking.

Professor Williams said, “It’s an honour to host tonight’s event and to celebrate a great academic and author, Professor Serhii Plokhy, and his award winning work of non-fiction.  It’s fitting that we do so in the same room that Adam Smith edited and revised his own reflection of the world and his magnum opus; The Wealth of Nations.”

On the evening Professor Plokhy was interviewed by author and broadcaster, Dr Tiffany Jenkins who is a regular on BBC Radio 4 and in the Scotsman. During their fascinating conversation Professor Plokhy imparted his unique and expert perspective on one of the most fascinating and tragic episodes of modern history: the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and gave a reading from his compelling, award-winning book, Chernobyl – History of a Tragedy. The book covers the events leading up to and the aftermath of the nuclear disaster in which Europe nearly became completely uninhabitable. Chernobyl was the winner of the prestigious Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-fiction 2018 and is the most comprehensive review of the disaster, but also an absolute page-turner. 

Following the interview and an intriguing Q&A session covering topics ranging from the decommissioning process for similar reactors, to Chernobyl’s rebirth as a tourist destination, guests were invited to enjoy drinks, canapés and informal discussions in the room that was Adam Smith’s former library. Attendees also had the opportunity to purchase a signed copy of Chernobyl and meet the author himself.

Professor Plokhy’s book is dedicated to the children of the nuclear age. His book is a call for the modern world to learn the lessons of what happened in Chernobyl on 26 April 1986. We can’t afford another.