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After the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, much of the foreign press focused on what it dubbed the “Fukushima 50” — a small band of workers whose life-or-death actions prevented a catastrophic meltdown.

Author Ryusho Kadota interviewed many of these frontline workers (which he found to number 69, not 50). He also spoke with Fukushima No. 1 plant manager Masao Yoshida, who headed the emergency response team, and former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who took an active — and controversial — role in the government’s reaction to the disaster.

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