book cover of Five Past Midnight in Bhopal

Five Past Midnight in Bhopal

(2002)
A non fiction book by

 
 
Drawing on aspects of both docu-drama and fairy-tale, Dominique Lapierre's epic story of man-made disaster in India, Five Past Midnight in Bhopal, delivers its horrific account with a frank and brave intimacy. The hulking pesticide factory had been built by American multinational Union Carbide near the ancient and beautiful city of Bhopal, to take advantage of the huge untapped potential of the Indian agricultural market.

"As inoffensive as a chocolate factory" according to one American executive, this is however, no Roald Dahl tale, despite its grim twists. Instead, it's a chemical catastrophe of devastating proportions, as a combination of slack safety, complacency and human error led to the release of deadly toxic clouds of methyl oxide that resulted in perhaps as many as 30 thousand deaths in 1984. And inevitably, when the wind blows, it does so against the poor and deprived, as it did here, with the majority of the deaths occurring in the shantytown settlements that bordered the industrial leviathan. In retrospect, a time bomb waiting to happen, the repercussions are still being felt in the lungs, eyes, cancers and deformities of those unfortunate enough to come into contact with its fallout.

Lapierre, a writer, journalist and lecturer who donates his fees to fund humanitarian work in India, chooses to construct his kaleidoscopic narrative through the threads of local lives, both prior to and after the disaster, such as the young couple Padmini and Dilip, whose wedding was interrupted by the tragedy. Colourfully translated from the French, yet retaining much of its idiomatic structures, Lapierre, the author of City of Joy, is shrewd to focus on the people, both employees, residents and bosses, as this was indubitably a very human tragedy, in all its sociological, scientific and commercial implications. Not, perhaps, a great work of literature, but scrupulously researched, engagingly accessible and a commendable pinpointing of the lives that surround and succeed an international news story. Lapierre concludes with perhaps the first moment of unguarded polemic, when a Monsanto salesman comes calling with genetically modified seeds. In the wake of such terrible affliction, Western commercial imperialism seems a ubiquitous grim reaper indeed. --David Vincent



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Used availability for Dominique Lapierre's Five Past Midnight in Bhopal

Hardback Editions

May 2002 : USA Hardback
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Title: Five Past Midnight in Bhopal: The Epic Story of the World's Deadliest Industrial Disaster
Author(s): Dominique Lapierre, Javier Moro
ISBN: 0-446-53088-3 / 978-0-446-53088-0 (USA edition)
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


March 2002 : USA Hardback
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Title: Five Past Midnight in Bhopal
Author(s): Dominique Lapierre, Javier Moro
ISBN: 0-7432-2034-X / 978-0-7432-2034-7 (USA edition)
Publisher: Gardners Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Paperback Editions

June 2003 : USA Paperback
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Title: Five Past Midnight in Bhopal: The Epic Story of the World's Deadliest Industrial Disaster
Author(s): Dominique Lapierre, Javier Moro
ISBN: 0-446-69078-3 / 978-0-446-69078-2 (USA edition)
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


January 2003 : USA Paperback
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Title: Five Past Midnight in Bhopal
Author(s): Dominique Lapierre, Javier Moro
ISBN: 0-7432-2035-8 / 978-0-7432-2035-4 (USA edition)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Kindle Editions

May 2009 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
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Title: Five Past Midnight in Bhopal: The Epic Story of the World's Deadliest Industrial Disaster
Author(s): Dominique Lapierre, Javier Moro
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA