- 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: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 519 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hiroshima Mass Market Paperback – March 4, 1989
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From the Inside Flap
On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was destroyed by the first atom bomb ever dropped on a city. This book, John Hersey's journalistic masterpiece, tells what happened on that day. Told through the memories of survivors, this timeless, powerful and compassionate document has become a classic "that stirs the conscience of humanity" ("The New York Times).
Almost four decades after the original publication of this celebrated book, John Hersey went back to Hiroshima in search of the people whose stories he had told. His account of what he discovered about them is now the eloquent and moving final chapter of Hiroshima.
From the Back Cover
"Nothing can be said about this book that can equal what the book has to say. It speaks for itself, and in an unforgettable way, for humanity."--The New York Times
"One of the great classics of the war." --The New Republic
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Even though the story was overwhelming, I found the people's stories very touching and immensely human. The fact that they did not simply give up. The fact that they tried to help one another, the fact that they somehow made it through whilst tens of thousands of others did not; this is what I have taken away from this book.
I truly feel this should be read by all students as they learn about WWII
The central strength of the book is its gripping account of the lives of these six individuals, setting the stage before the bomb was dropped, describing the events that immediately followed the immense explosion, and following the impact of that cataclysmic event in the ensuing months and years. In fact, a final chapter, written 40 years after the original publication of the book, gives another update for the six featured people, four decades down the road. And, in all of this, Hersey manages to tell a powerful, vivid story without getting preachy or political. At the end of the day, we get a sense of the devastation, a hint of the suffering, a glimmer of the confusion, and just a faint taste of the impact of that first atomic bomb. It's a worthy experience for anyone, from any nationality or political persuasion.
I do have one minor quibble with Hersey's approach. With only six subjects to describe, I found it odd and unnecessarily limited in scope that two of them were physicians and two of them were Christian clergy (though one was Catholic and one was Protestant). Had he found a more diverse cross-section of Japanese society, I think that the main strength of the book would have been augmented. But this critique is truly insignificant within the context of the power of Hersey's work.
Ultimately, part of my experience in appreciating this book comes from a cultural upbringing that celebrated the United States' military might and historical successes with an abstract triumphalist tone, failing to bother to understand the devastating effects that war brings to all sides of any military conflict. As I've studied and learned as much military history as I can, my perspective has thankfully become more nuanced, and I'm mindful of the dangers of looking at an event like the bombing of Hiroshima as nothing more than a good old fashioned Yankee whooping. "Hiroshima" helps to counter that cheap view of human worth by shedding light on the horrors of war, from the often untold perspective of the defeated. It's true that the victors get to write history, and I'm glad that Hersey took the brave step to make sure that the impact on the vanquished is at least known and understood on some level. He does so without making sweeping political implications, without suggesting that the Hiroshima bombing was necessarily a mistake. He merely says that this event happened, that it was tragically awful for many people, that real people suffered and died, and that we would do well to be aware of those realities when we think back in history at war. I'd recommend the book to absolutely anyone who can see the potential value of being stretched and challenged in that direction.
The nature and quality of this type of journalism is very old school compared to what we have today. The author is not trying to influence the reader's thinking.. he's presented a story and lets us fully understand it.