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Hiroshima Mass Market Paperback – March 4, 1989
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Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan as a way to force Japan to surrender in the ongoing war. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Andrew
Very timely story of Hiroshima survivors, perhaps its time for everyone to read this.Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
Great book about 6 survivors and what they did the day of the bomb.Published 18 days ago by James W. Ferrill
This book was purchased for my son, as a school required summer reading assignment. My son read the book in two days, and said it was a very interesting and well written book,Published 1 month ago by Dawn Sheetz