Nov 30 2012


Published by at 9:51 PM under Comm 300

For my second text review I chose Hiroshima by John Hersey. The story is a series of recollection from six prominent characters that survived the bombing at Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. Each one details the horror and havoc that ensued just prior to and following the devastating ushering in of the atomic era. Questions about faith, rumors about radiation sickness and its effects on “atomic-bomb people,” their unprecedented diseases, and getting back to normal are all addressed. The horrors of the moment, death all around, and the subsequent loss of normality all leap from the pages of this piece.

Author John Hersey offers a vivid and intriguing tale about Hiroshima. His firsthand knowledge (as a war correspondent for magazines such as Time and Life) as well as his relationship to Asian culture – born in Tientsin, China – makes him a reliable and trustworthy source for readers.  Hersey was one of the first western journalists to cover Hiroshima after the atomic bomb explosion due to a commission by the famed New Yorker. His decision to detail the experiences of six survivors: two doctors, a minister, the widow, a priest, and young female factory worker lend serious credibility to this work.

The purpose of this novel, in my opinion, is to show Hiroshima from the inside. As students we are taught why America dropped the atomic bomb. Our history books illustrate the cause not the effect. Japan was the enemy. The atomic bomb was our only solution. There is no remorse, no pain, nor death in our version. As we examine history, there are no victims after the atomic bomb. The war is ended and we as Americans are victorious and free from guilt. By showing the lives that were affected and the devastation caused by this decision, Hersey honors those forgot in Western history books.

As mentioned prior, the book details the lives of six survivors. It follows them from the moments just before the chaos and trails them as they cope with survival. Though the book isn’t written as many typical interview style pieces are. The author captures the emotion and psyche of each individual. Hersey in my mind is emotionally involved. He builds a relationship with each character and attempts to convey their feelings to the audience.

First and foremost l don’t read for leisure. Like many, I feel my time is better spent elsewhere. However, Hiroshima is a quick read that could be tackled in one sitting. With only 116 pages cover to cover, the book jumps right in and avoids the typical lengthy introduction and character background information. By choosing this method, the bombing takes center stage rather than the characters. This helps readers go in-depth without having to swim through useless fluff and undesired nonsense. The book is real and compelling. If you have a few hours to kill, or have ever thought about the other side of the coin so to speak, Hiroshima is a great way to do it.

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