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Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807843444
ISBN-10: 080784344X
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Editorial Reviews


A significant contribution to the atomic age.--New York Times

One of those rare works destined to bear witness and change the lives of those who read it.--Newsweek

[A] compassionate and important study of the malaise that still pollutes the spirits of many survivors.--Time

From the Back Cover

In Japan, 'hibakusha means 'the people affected by the explosion'----specifically, the explosion of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima in 1945. In this classic study, Robert Jay Lifton studies the psychological effects of the bomb on 90,000 survivors. Lifton sees this analysis as providing a last chance to understand----and be motivated to avoid----nuclear war.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 606 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press (November 25, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080784344X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807843444
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,051,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By John P. Jones III TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
Alain Resnais 1959 movie, with the subject title, based on Marguerite Duras' novel with the same name Hiroshima mon amour. is a seminal work depicting the solace that two disparate individuals, one French, the other Japanese achieved in their reactions to traumatic events. She had been dubbed a "collabo," in the town of Nevers, since she took a lover who was a German soldier during the occupation. The Japanese man was a film maker, producing a peace documentary on Hiroshima. The unleashing of the tremendous energy available deep within the atom against a segment of humanity has been the catalyst for numerous other deeply reflective works, for example John Hersey's Hiroshima. The attention that the first use of atomic energy in war has received dwarfs the reaction to the second, only a few days later, at Nagasaki, and the many more that died, more than double the casualties at Hiroshima, in the fire-bombing of Tokyo, five months earlier, barely merits a footnote. Lifton's work is a further examination of the impact of the atomic bomb not only the inhabitants of Hiroshima, but the larger impact on humankind as a whole, and addresses why the attention seems disproportionate.

Dr. Robert Jay Lifton is a psychiatrist, still quite active, who has specialized in the reactions of individuals to traumatic events, notably, the Holocaust, other genocides, and the Vietnam War. His book
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Format: Hardcover
On August 6th, 1945 Hiroshima, Japan became the first city to be destroyed by an atomic weapon. Three days later, Nagasaki suffered a second atomic attack. On August 14th, Japanese Emperor Hirohito announced he was planning to surrender. A Japanese delegation signed the instrument of surrender on the deck of the battleship Missouri September 2nd, 1945. These facts are known to almost every school child. What is not known is what happened to the survivors. Author Robert Jay Lifton attempts to explain both the physical and psychological effects in this work.

He begins with a description of the physical effects. Survivors, called "hibakusha" meaning, "explosion affected person(s) vividly describe the blast, heat, and radiation effects on themselves and others. However psychologist, Lifton, devotes the majority of this work to the psychological effects that received little attention. Hibakusha, developed several theories to cope with their experience:

1. Why us? We were a small city of limited military importance.
2. We were guinea pigs. The Americans wanted to test their new bomb. We were their lab rats.
3. Racial bias. They only use weapons like that on the colored races.
4. The people responsible will suffer divine retribution for their actions.
5. We, the survivors, have a mission to explain the horrors of nuclear war to the entire world!

Once militaristic Japan turned totally pacifistic after the war. However, Japan has never come to terms with its own misdeeds in World War II, which explains the reactions of the survivors. The author also fails to acknowledge Japan has been able to divest itself of military expenditures only due to America's nuclear umbrella.
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Format: Paperback
In 1962 I visited Hiroshima for the first time.
I had been a Chaplain at a US Bomber Base.
After my discharge, I wanted to see Hiroshima.

Returning to America, I witnessed against the Vietnam War.
I bought Robert Jay Lifton's book, DEATH IN LIFE in 1968.
A few months later, I invited Lifton to speak at our Unitarian
Church in Flushing, New York. Lifton gave a name to the anti-war
passion which I felt. He called it ANTICIPATED SURVIVOR GUILT.

He told of the Survivors of Hiroshima and their
feelings of "guilt" that they had survived and others
were dead. We went on to say that possiblity of total
Atomic War makes all of us potential victims or
survivors. Facing either future, love for life and
earth calls us to witness against war.

Years later as a minister in California, I read his book
on the survivors of the Vietnam War. From the text and
poems in that book, the church organist and I wrote
"REQUIEM FOR VIETNAM." The text is not the traditional
words of the mass, but the experience of the war.
Robert Lifton came to introduce the first performance.
The choir sings ...
"Our land became as the face of the moon,
defoliated trees and craters of doom ..."

The Requiem closes with this choral,
"Peace on earth, let it be,
Let the mountain come down to the sea.
And the joy we will share
When there's peace everywhere.
Peace on earth, let it be.

"Peace on earth, let it be.
Let all nations declare the decree.
Let us live the belief
That will conquer our grief.
Peace on earth, let it be."
Richard Boeke, for 6 August 2009
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