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Hiroshima Mass Market Paperback – March 4, 1989

4.1 out of 5 stars 485 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, few could have anticipated its potential for devastation. Pulitzer prize-winning author John Hersey recorded the stories of Hiroshima residents shortly after the explosion and, in 1946, Hiroshima was published, giving the world first-hand accounts from people who had survived it. The words of Miss Sasaki, Dr. Fujii, Mrs. Nakamara, Father Kleinsorg, Dr. Sasaki, and the Reverend Tanimoto gave a face to the statistics that saturated the media and solicited an overwhelming public response. Whether you believe the bomb made the difference in the war or that it should never have been dropped, "Hiroshima" is a must read for all of us who live in the shadow of armed conflict. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

On the basis of a return visit 40 years after the dropping of the bomb, Hersey has written a ``final chapter'' to one of the most important books to come out of World War II. The new chapter follows a reprint of the original text on the dropping of the first atomic bomb, and is written in the same spare, objective style. In it, Hersey brings up to date the lives of six survivors he covered so brilliantly in 1946. Once again he evokes the humdrum and the surreal elements in the aftermath of the bomb, and with eloquent simplicity he includes statements of other nations' nuclear tests. Compelling, unforgettable, and more timely than ever, this is absolutely essential for collections from junior high on. Robert H. Donahugh, Youngstown and Mahoning Cty. P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (March 4, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679721037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679721031
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.4 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (485 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James D. DeWitt on February 29, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Hiroshima was published in 1946 - a year after the bomb was dropped - in New Yorker magazine. Uniquely in its history, the magazine devoted its entire issue to Hersey's 30,000 word essay. Only later was it turned into a book; the final chapter on the subsequent lives of the six subjects wasn't written until 1985.
Hersey set out to put a human face on the consquences of the atomic bomb. All earlier news accounts, articles and stories had been focused on the statistics, the science, and the effort that led to the nuclear weapon. Understood in that context, understanding what Hersey was trying to do and say, the book is even more remarkable.
It is not a novel; a novel is a work of fiction. It is an essay, a work of reportage. This story is true. The book is all the more remarkable because Hersey was born and raised in China, the son of missionaries, and had no reason to be sympathetic to or about the Japanese. A war correspondent for Time, he earned a commendation from the U.S. Army at Guadacanal. He cannot fairly be accused of anything but supreme objectivity. By telling the true stories of six survivors in an absolutely straightforward way, without judging the decision to use the bomb, he put an intensely human face on the consequences.
He was criticized at the time and is criticized today for taking the events that day out of context. The bomb is supposed to have saved a million American casualties (a highly suspect figure today). It was supposed to have shortened the war by a year or more. Those critics are themselves missing the true context. At the time, the historical events leading to Truman's decision were well known (although recast in February 1947 by Stinson). Hersey's goal was to make the story real in a new way.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
When the atomic bomb dropped at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was a thriving city of two hundred forty-five thousand people. By 8:20, one hundred thousand of those people were dead. Combining the broad perspective of the absolute devastation of the city with the tiniest details of six individual lives, John Hersey provides a powerful closeup of a few survivors of the atomic attack on Hiroshima, giving the carnage a human perspective.

Focusing on Mr. Tanimoto, a Methodist pastor; Mrs. Nakamura, the widow of a tailor, and her three children; Dr. Masakazu Fujii, a physician in a private clinic; Fr. Wilhelm Kleinsorge, S. J, a priest in a Catholic mission; Dr. Terufumi Sasaki, a young surgeon at the Red Cross Hospital; and Toshiko Sasaki, a clerk in a tin works, as they survive the initial attack, the author follows their daily movements, their subsequent illnesses, their fears, and the eventual outcomes of their lives. The victims become human, and their concerns become universal, as Hersey shows them digging themselves out and helping their neighbors, filled with an "elated community spirit" in the days and weeks after the bombing.

Details of the fires following the bombing, the unexpected radiation sickness, the mysteries surrounding the kind of bomb this was (some Japanese believed that the allies had sprinkled powdered magnesium over the city and then ignited it), the devastating rains that followed, and the monumental scale of the damage are presented in straightforward, factual style, the horrors of the reality so overwhelming that Hersey had no need to try to control his narrative by selecting details or ordering them for effect.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
On August 6th, 1945, a bomb with the explosive force of 12,500 tons of dynamite was shot into the heart of the Japanese metropolis of Hiroshima. Not only did the initial blast virtually topple the city, maiming and killing tens of thousands, but the radiation unleashed by the atomic bomb inflicted countless more with radiation poisoning that caused chronic sickness and even more gruesome deaths. Less than a year after the attack, journalist, John Hersey, interviewed six survivors for a special edition of the New Yorker. The issue sparked a sensation, selling out within hours and gathering extensive acclaim from Hersey's peers. The article was sent to members of the Book-of-the-Month club as a selection and was read aloud on special radio broadcasts all across the world.
Reading the paperback edition of Mr. Hersey's extensive article, I had little difficulty seeing why it gathered such acclaim. He does not just take readers to the scene of the bombing; he takes them behind the eyes of those affected. Mr. Hersey temporarily disregarded the sociopolitical and moral debate concerning the atomic attack and told a straightforward, compelling and vivid story of human beings coming face to face with mammoth, almost surreal, tragedy. This new addition, featuring an additional chapter that reveals the fates of the six survivors forty years later and describes the social stigma, medical difficulties and psychological and philosophical adjustments involved in being a "hibakusha" or "explosion-effected person" only makes this journalistic triumph even better. I highly recommend Hiroshima to anyone interested in atomic warfare, World War II, Japanese culture or those who simply wish to read about the human experience at its most grave and epic.
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